David Smuts Patron of Doek • Justice of the Supreme Court of Namibia

Nurturing keen interests in a broad spectrum of artistic disciplines—from literature to opera, photography to painting, and harbouring a deep passion for Namibia’s artistic development—Justice David Smuts is the Doek Arts Trust’s first patron.

Justice Smuts is a judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia and the author of Death, Detention And Disappearance (2019), a powerful and timely account of his legal efforts to hold power to account and defend human rights in the turbulent years before Namibia’s independence. He holds a BA LLB from the University of Stellenbosch and an LLM from Harvard Law School. In 1990, he received an award as a Human Rights Watch Monitor from Human Rights Watch Monitor. Yale Law School also elected him as an Orville Schell Jr Fellow in that same year. In 2019 he was elected as a member of the American Academy for Arts and Science.

Justice Smuts has a long history of activism in Namibia. In 1988 he founded the Legal Assistance Centre, a public interest law firm which strives to make the law accessible to those with the least access. He played an important role in the abolition of the death sentence and lobbied extensively to end detentions without trial. Justice Smuts co-founded The Namibian—the country’s largest daily newspaper and a fierce opponent of the Apartheid regime in Namibia and South Africa.

As a writer, Justice Smuts was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre Residency in Italy. He is also a founding member of the Windhoek Writers Club, which went on to launch Doek! Literary Magazine.