Silindile Buthelezi

Lecturer, Commercial Law Department, University of Cape Town

Silindile Buthelezi loved debating and public speaking in high school, and her experiences in these activities piqued her interest in law. “Growing up, I also always knew that I wanted to make some difference or contribution in the world,” she says.

“I knew that being a lawyer would create an opportunity to make a difference, irrespective of what area of law I chose to specialise in.” Buthelezi holds both an LLB and two LLM degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and from University College in the UK with merit.

She is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa and has practised at a leading corporate and commercial law firm. She also previously worked as a law researcher for the judges of the Western Cape High Court, and is currently employed as a lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Law.

Buthelezi’s main areas of research and expertise are within the field of banking and financial sector regulation, and her recent LLM thesis focus was on the current financial sector regulatory reforms in South Africa. She is an emerging academic expert in the field of banking and finance law in South Africa and intends contributing to the development of law and knowledge within banking and finance in South Africa, as well as contributing to the economic development of the country through advising the government on matters relating to policy and legal regulatory issues within the banking and finance sector.

“The biggest challenge in my field is being a young black woman and emerging academic,” she says. “Banking law is a very male-dominated industry and one of my main challenges right now is gaining visibility when it comes to my research and having people actually take what I have to say seriously.

“Law is such a competitive field and I have noticed that many people do not pursue opportunities as they believe they are just not good enough, particularly when they compare themselves to their fellow classmates or colleagues,” explains Buthelezi. “They miss many amazing opportunities simply because they discount themselves before even applying for the scholarship or position. “Even if you have doubts as to whether you will be accepted into the LLB program at your dream university — apply anyway. Push through the doubt and pursue your dreams. The worst that could happen is that you’ll get a no, and if it’s a no you’ll just move on. But it could actually be a yes, and then you’ll be living your dream.”

Buthelezi has been selected as one of 1 000 participants from sub-Saharan Africa for the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship programme, part of the Young African Leaders Initiative, and mentors high school students who intend entering the legal profession.

— Kerry Haggard

Twitter: @Silindile_N