Interview with Francois Venter (Professor Navorsingsgenoot Fakulteit Regte, research Associate Faculty of Law)
Who did you dream to become when you were a child? Have your dreams came true?
I thought I should be made Prime Minister of South Africa, but later, when I got a clearer picture of the dark side of politics, I lost all political ambitions.
How did you earn your first money?
Sorting and packing Government Gazettes for mailing by the Government Printer during university holidays.
When did you decide to become a lawyer?
As a young boy, when I thought it would be glorious to win every case as an advocate.
If lawyers became banned, what would you do?
Become an historian to research the roots of humanity's achievements and errors.
What was the most unusual action you made in your life?
Taking up scuba diving.
What is the most prominent feature of your temper?
Who or what inspires you?
Intelligent and informed analysis and argumentation.
What are three things you cannot live without?
Mutton, my computer and my grandchildren.
What is the most difficult thing in life?
Not to condemn the failures of arrogant and selfish people with power.
What do you like in everyday life?
The vast richness and variety in nature.
What is the best pursuit on Friday night?
Reading a well-written sci-fi book.
Describe in a few words an ideal lawyer?
A learned person with a passion for the truth, honesty and a balanced outlook on life.
How Law should be taught?
Those who teach law should understand that the student rather learns than being taught. Learning the law should therefore be facilitated rather than lectured. The principles, methodology, understanding and moral values underlying the law are more important than the material rules of the law, because, among various reasons, the rules never stop evolving. Teaching law has much to do with setting an example of how the law should be communicated verbally and in writing.
What was the most complimentary comment on your work?
When it is said to produce an original insight.
Is there any skill you do not have but would like to?
Many. The most important is to speak persuasively in public for 30 minutes on an interesting topic, without having to refer to a text or notes.
What is the most valuable thing you can buy for money?
What would you like to do after the next 10 years?
Write books on topics on comparative constitutional law and visit Antarctica.
What would you wish to young lawyers?
To enjoy exploring the boundless reaches of the law.