Bheki Mlangeni Scholarship

The Bheki Mlangeni scholarship was founded by Cheadle Thompson & Haysom in memory of Bhekisizwe Godfrey Mlangeni, a colleague and friend, who was assassinated in the course of his work at the firm in 1991.


The Bheki Mlangeni scholarship was founded by Cheadle Thompson & Haysom in memory of Bhekisizwe Godfrey Mlangeni, a colleague and friend, who was assassinated in the course of his work at the firm in 1991.


Bhekisizwe Godfrey Mlangeni joined the firm in January 1989.

“Joined” probably best describes the relationship because, at that time, aspirant lawyers committed to a democratic future sought out employment at Cheadle Thompson & Haysom in order to challenge the apartheid legal order of the time and to champion the principles that now underpin our Constitution.

But Bheki joined the firm not only as a graduate of Wits University but as an aspirant lawyer. He joined as a formidable student and community activist from a poor working class background; and as a father, husband and son of the Mlangeni family. He died on 15 February 1991 in an explosion triggered by a booby-trapped cassette player manufactured and dispatched by the Vlakplaas Unit of the then South African Police.

The bursary is intended:

  • to celebrate all of our memories of Bheki;
  • to promote progressive legal education at Wits University;
  • to remind us of the profound sacrifices made in order to achieve democracy in our country; and
  • to remind us of our continuing responsibility to entrench and realise the principles that underpin our Constitution.

How to Apply

Submit your application at any of the following universities.

The University of the Witwatersrand

Applications must be submitted to the university coordinator, Wanda Ndlozi by email to by the end of February each year.

The University of the Western Cape

Applications must be submitted to the university coordinator, Vernon Johannes by email to by the end of February each year.

Your application must include the following:

1. The name of the scholarship for which you are applying.

2. A letter fully motivating why you should receive the scholarship.

3. Your curriculum vitae which includes your student number.

4. Certified copy of your academic results.

5. Certified copy of your identity document.

6. Two letters of reference.

7. Contactable telephone number(s).

Please note:

  • The recipient of the scholarship may be required to participate in a vacation work. program at Cheadle Thompson & Haysom.
  • Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.
  • Should you not hear from us, please consider your application unsuccessful.

Who Bheki Was

Bheki was, notwithstanding his youth at the time of his death, regarded as a community leader of the highest calibre.

He was the ANC Jabulani Branch chairperson. He was a former student leader at Fort Hare and Wits Universities and was deeply involved in the Soweto Civic Association. As an activist, he had been detained for lengthy periods on 3 separate occasions.

He was survived by his wife, Seipati Mlangeni and their son Mandla (he was 4 years old at the time). He was also survived by 3 other children, a daughter, Nolwazi (14 at the time) and 2 sons, Tieho and Xolani (who were 12 and 13 at the time). He left behind his father, Mr Koos Mlangeni his mother Mamosadi Catherine Mlangeni and his siblings, John, Masesi, Charles and Lindani.

The Importance of the Bursary to Cheadle Thompson & Haysom

The novelist, Milan Kundera in his Book of Laughter and Forgetting spoke of the struggle of memory against forgetting.

Establishing this bursary is part of the firm’s struggle against forgetting… to remember where we come from, to draw strength from these memories and to maintain our founding principles.

The firm has changed since the early 1990s. We have grown exponentially, expanding our scope of human rights and labour law to constitutional, public administration, media, telecommunications, and commercial law amongst others. In this process, we have grown in number to a firm of more than 50 staff with more than 55% of our equity held by black directors and more than 30% by women. We have grown with our clients and the fundamental political transformation of the last decade. Today, our clients include trade unions, government at national, provincial and local levels, major corporations, pension funds, small businesses, NGOs and individuals.

This change has been profoundly challenging and at times very difficult. We are a very different law firm today and the Bheki Mlangeni bursary provides us with a standard to measure ourselves against, to remember his sacrifice and the impact of his life and his death on the firm, and to remain true to our past in a different era.

The Terms of the Bursary

Cheadle Thompson & Haysom endows an annual scholarship in memory of Bheki Mlangeni.

The Scholarship has been established in recognition of Bheki’s courage and commitment as a community leader, student and lawyer. Bheki Mlangeni was assassinated in 1991 whilst serving his articles at the firm.

The scholarship is awarded to a deserving South African final-year LLB student who:

  • is Black;
  • is financially disadvantaged;
  • has demonstrated excellence in constitutional law, labour law or administrative law; and
  • demonstrates a commitment to use his or her legal qualification to advance the cause of social justice.
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