Primedia Broadcasting, a division of the Primedia Group, have announced the inaugural Kuben Pillay Award which will be presented to its first recipient at the University of Witwatersrand's (Wits) Law School graduation in March 2015.
The award will seek to recognise the top LL.M (Master of Law) in Human Rights Advocacy and Litigation student.
The award was named after Primedia Group Chairperson, Kuben Pillay, as a tribute to his prolific law career and the tenacity with which he safeguarded Primedia Broadcasting’s right to freedom of expression during his tenure as CEO of the Group - a position he stepped down from earlier this year.
Roger Jardine has since been appointed CEO of the Group.
"Our ability to freely express ourselves is the cornerstone of our existence and is a must-have ingredient for our success now, and going into the future. It is therefore befitting that we honour Kuben's legacy and contribution to our much-cherished human rights through the establishment of this award," said Primedia Broadcasting CEO, Terry Volkwyn.
"Kuben's relationship with Primedia Broadcasting has been a close one. Whatever projects we embarked on, he was always there to support or give advice. His faith in our team and open door policy gave us wings to continuously nurture and grow our brands.
"He embraced Lead SA when we launched it in 2010 and made every effort to adopt its philosophy into the Group’s values. It is a privilege to honour his legacy of civil activism and exceptional leadership," Volkwyn added.
Primedia Broadcasting has also committed to a R20 000 cash prize annually, over a period of five years, to accompany the merit award for a deserving student in this category.
Pillay has been with Primedia for over 20 years and will step down from executive to non-executive chairperson of the Group.
"I'm still reeling from the occasion... my sincerest gratitude for the acknowledgement," said Pillay. "I am humbled and this honour is most touching."
Pillay did his BA and LLB degrees at Wits majoring in Politics, Law and International Relations. After Wits, Kuben went to Howard University in Washington DC where he studied for his Master of Law in Human & Civil Rights and Labour Law.
On completion of his studies in 1986, Kuben approached Cyril Ramaphosa at the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Author, Anthony Butler best describes the young Kuben in Ramaphosa’s biography, "a highly talented young black lawyer called Kuben Pillay". He successfully set up and ran the NUM's legal team.
He later joined the public interest law firm of Krish Naidoo, Nicholls and Cambanis. In 1992, he joined Cheadle Thompson & Haysom as a managing financial partner. During his time in practice, Kuben was involved in many landmark labour law and policy decisions.
He left legal practice and became one of the founding directors of the Mineworkers Investments Company (MIC), which went on to acquire a strategic and controlling interest in the Primedia Group. Pillay played a key role during a successful bid for 94.7 Highveld Stereo (now 947) and 567 Cape Talk (now Cape Talk) in 1996. In 2009 he was appointed as CEO of the Group.