Powerhouse advocate, Thandi Norman, joins Coega board

BY SUPPLIED - SEPTEMBER 2, 2014

THE Coega Development Corporation (CDC) welcomed another top executive to its board with the arrival of KwaZulu-Natal based advocate Thandi Norman.

Norman will lend her skills and experience in the legal fraternity to the board, which is responsible for the guidance and evolution of South Africa’s premier Special Economic Zone, the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), and its management company, the CDC.

“The CDC’s board members are well respected, highly qualified experts with a significant collective insight into industry, politics, economic and infrastructure development, business, administration, finance, sustainability and investment,” said CDC head of marketing and communications, Dr Ayanda Vilakazi.

“They have been carefully selected for their professionalism, knowledge and in-depth understanding of the complexity of managing mega-projects like the Coega IDZ. They also maintain the vision and strategic direction of the organisation, linking it locally, nationally and internationally through industry and business networks, particularly as the CDC expands to assist local, provincial and national government with a number of key social and infrastructure development programmes.”

The new position has inspired Norman to consider the emergent role of women in leadership positions in South Africa, especially during Woman’s Month. Norman’s message to young girls is that education remains the only liberator from the chains of poverty.

“Young women must follow their dreams. The fact that a person comes from a humble background cannot be a reason for not achieving one's goals.

Norman speaks from experience, herself of humble origins. She was born on a farm in Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape, the eldest of seven children. Her father was a labourer at the General Farm Services and her mother was a cleaner at the nearby Martjie Venter Hospital, who also worked as a domestic worker and messenger. 

“It is incumbent upon all of us not to take for granted our freedom. We must recognise at all times that this freedom, which we now enjoy and is guaranteed by our Constitution,  was brought about by, the women of 1956, those students who died and were wounded in 1976 and all the men and women who died and suffered  in order for us to be liberated,” Norman said.

She holds a B Juris LLB degree and a Certificate in Shipping. She was admitted as an Advocate in Bhisho, on the 4 June 1992, and to the Bhisho Bar in January 1997. Norman took silk in June 2011. Her preferred areas of practice include shipping, competition, constitutional and administrative law – making her an ideal fit for her new CDC board position.

She has appeared in the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal, in various High Courts, the Land Claims Court and Labour Court. She obtained a certificate in tutorship course on understanding shipping from the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in Durban in June 2005.

In addition to her role as advocate, Norman chaired the RTI Commission (February 2013 to March 2014) and acted as evidence leader in the Pillay Commission (2005) and the Goldstone Commission (1995), both in the Eastern Cape. She was also a Presiding Officer at the country's first democratic elections and has acted as a judge from time to time since June 2002 in the Eastern Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal.

Norman, a mother with two children, maintains that it is her love and appreciation for her career and her family that motivates her to tackle each day and make a difference.

As a busy career woman and a mother she said there was no such thing as a balanced life. “I have a good support system at home. I do not spend enough time with the family due to work commitments, so I try avoid bringing work home.”

Photo: Supplied