Trust Makes ‘Legal’ Dreams Come True

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Fourteen formally disadvantaged learners have become the latest proud beneficiaries of scholarships from the well-known J.P. Karuaihe Trust Fund. For many of these young people, their dreams of becoming the best lawyers in the noble footsteps of the late Foni Karuaihe after whom the trust was founded could become true. Last week, the trust staged a fundraising gala dinner at a local resort in Windhoek. Close to 500 prominent lawyers, business people, chiefs of corporate companies and government officials attended the fund-raising dinner in a bid to help raise more funds for legal studies. For the young beneficiaries present at the occasion, the completion of their studies in South Africa would be a profound and honourable achievement, which they so dearly want to achieve before ploughing their expertise back into the respective communities. Mbushandja Ntindi who’s practised as a lawyer at the Katutura Magistrate’s Court for the past one and a half years, said that he was grateful for the bursary he received from the Karuaihe Trust. He said education was the only weapon with which one could excel in life today. Ntindi noted that completing his degree was just the beginning of his long journey to success. “It is not the degree that determines success, but it is what you do with it that counts. You must rather use it as a stepping stone to success,” he added. Coming from a poor family background, Razikua Kaviua, one of Namibia’s few upcoming female lawyers, said that the trust was like a “life saver for me and I now want to give back to my community”. Lately, law is not considered a priority area compared to other fields like medical science and geology. However, speaking at the well-attended gala function, another beneficiary student of the trust fund Uundji Kaihiva said legal practitioners are also in their own way contributing to the country’s gross domestic product like any service provider. “Lawyers through law firms also employ people so their contribution must not be underestimated,” said Kaihiva. It was obvious from speaker after speaker that the students aim to excel in their careers, in line with the well-known legacy laid by black attorney, the late Karuaihe. ‘Fonnie’, as he was affectionately known, was born on July 25, 1959 in a traditional Herero family of seven sisters and three brothers. He studied for a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and later his LL.B Degree in South Africa after which he opened his own law firm in 1989. He was later appointed to the bench at the age of 38. Fonnie was further described by speakers at the function as a humble and approachable man who had a firm belief in education. That is why after his tragic death in a car accident in 1998, his family continued with his legacy by setting up a trust fund in his name in 1999. And ever since then, deserving Namibian students have received assistance to further their legal tertiary education both in Namibia and South Africa. So far out of the 14 students who have completed their studies, four currently practise law in the country. Commending this achievement as a right step in building the country’s much needed human resources, Acting Judge Hosea Angula in his keynote address said the Karuaihe Trust Fund was addressing the strained human capital. To the beneficiaries the Acting Judge gave serious advice on their studies. “You should therefore study seriously and prove yourself worthy of the support that has been given to you…These are tough times and there is simply no money floating around. Every penny counts, therefore you should use it to the best of your ability,” said the Acting Judge. Angula also alluded to the fact that the current Justice Training Centre is failing students and the legal profession as the course has changed over the years from being practical to a rather more theoretical one, bringing out young attorneys who do not have any legal practice in reality.