Lungelo Chirwa is a young candidate attorney who works hard to make a difference.

Candidate Lungelo Chirwa (front, left) acted as legal counsel for one of the accused in the Amy’Leigh de Jager case in the Vanderbijlpark Court during the bail proceedings. (Photo: News24)


The leap to the world of work


Asked about the most challenging aspect in the transition from university to the world of work, Lungelo says that the responsibilities of adulting can be daunting.


“There is a big shift in your focus.  The one day you have to decide whether you want to get out of bed to attend class, and the next you have to get up to earn a living!”

Lungelo Chirwa: if it pleases the court

The case has all the makings of a Hollywood drama: suspense, speculation and unexpected twists and turns.

At its core is six-year-old Amy’Leigh de Jager and the four individuals accused of snatching her from her mother’s arms outside her school on the morning of 2 September. The alleged mastermind of the abduction is none other than the mother’s friend and a Grade RR teacher at Amy Leigh’s school.


During the recent highly publicised bail hearing of three of the accused, Lungelo Chirwa, a young Legal Aid candidate attorney and NWU alumnus, acted as legal counsel for Pieter van Zyl (referred to as accused number 3 in the court proceedings).


Live court action


The pressure was on, especially after News24 brought an urgent application to have the bail proceedings live-streamed.


“It is not every day that you have to argue a case in a room filled with journalists and news cameras, and therefore it was important to put justice centre stage,” says Lungelo.“In court we argue facts and how the law applies to such facts. This is our guiding principle, regardless of the fact that thousands of people followed our every move via the internet.”


A well-balanced student life


Growing up in the Vaal Triangle, it was an easy choice for Lungelo to pursue his studies at the NWU in Vanderbijlpark. He enrolled in 2012 for a BA Law degree and from the outset participated enthusiastically in student life, from playing rugby to singing in the campus choir.


As a day student, he was affiliated to the Oryx residence and in his first year was elected projects officer, an experience that was “very exciting and memorable”. There was jubilation when the residence won the campus’s first-ever Culture Day festival, complete with traditional Basotho attire, cuisine and ceremonial customs.


In his final year at the NWU, Lungelo resided in the off-campus residence Ebukhosini.  He then completed his postgraduate LLB studies at the University of Pretoria and is currently employed at Legal Aid South Africa as a candidate attorney.


“I am proud of my NWU roots and how it helped to shape me into the person I am today,” says Lungelo. One of the most valuable life lessons he learnt as a student is that although not everyone shares the same background, ultimately we are all moving forward together.


It is this sense of shared humility, that led Lungelo to pursue a career in law and that drives him to help make a difference.




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Fast facts about Lungelo


  • Who is your role model?
    Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC.


  • Any advice for current students?
    Work hard, it will be worth it at the end.


  • What is on your professional bucket list?
    To appear before the full bench in the Constitutional Court to present a legally sound argument.


  • What is your philosophy in life?
    Do unto others as you would like done unto you.


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