PROF. PUSELETSO LETETE
Puseletso Letete is a full professor of law and Vice Dean: Teaching and Learning, in the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Law since 01 September 2022. She lectures tax law at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Prior to this appointment at UJ, she had been appointed as a senior lecturer; an associate professor, and a full professor of Tax Law, at the University of South Africa (UNISA) where she lectured at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels; and supervised postgraduate students. She holds a doctoral degree (Tax Law) from the University of Edinburgh; a Masters in Commercial Law from the University of Cape Town; a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts in Law from the National University of Lesotho.
Her research interest includes Tax Law (specifically VAT Law), Tax Policy and Practice, Tax Administration, and International Trade Law. Puseletso has presented papers at national, regional, and international conferences. She is a member of the ATAF Women in Tax Network (AWITN). She is a former Commonwealth Scholar (2002-2007) for an award granted by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom for PhD studies at the University of Edinburgh.
From January 2017 to January 2020, she was appointed as the President of the Law Teachers for Southern Africa (SLTSA). In 2019 and 2020, she was invited by the National Council for Quality Assessment of Higher Education (CNAQ) in Mozambique to be a member of the Independent Evaluation Committee that has a mandate to evaluate Postgraduate Programs in Law (Masters and Doctorate) for prior accreditation submitted by higher institutions of learning. She was also invited to participate in the curriculum development of a Masters’ course in Fiscal and Customs Law at the Instituto Superior De Ciěncias E Educaçăo Aˋ Distancia (ISCED) in Mozambique in 2019. She has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Lusaka, Zambia – responsible for teaching in the LLM programme in law. Puseletso has held various visiting academic and researcher positions at: – the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (School of Advanced Study, University of London); the Asian Institute of International Financial Law (The University of Hong Kong); the Institute for Austrian and International Tax Law (WU Vienna, University of Economics and Business); Max Planck Institute of Tax Law and Public Finance (Munich) and Durham Law School (Durham University).
We posed some questions to Professor Letete and share her responses:
Briefly describe your journey to becoming a law teacher
My journey to becoming a law teacher started in 1997 as a Lecturer in Law at the National University in Lesotho, where I taught taxation and private international law, after completing an LLM in Commercial Law (with a focus on tax law; international human rights law and international trade law; a short dissertation in tax law) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Undertaking research for my LLM dissertation made me curious to engage in more research in the area of tax law, which was one of the new fields of law at the time. chose this profession because there are so few tax lawyers, and even fewer women tax lawyers, in Lesotho, my country of origin, as well as in most countries in the SADC At the time, I was more interested in tax planning and tax policy of the SADC countries. As soon as I joined the National University of Lesotho and engaged in mentoring students as well as supervising the LLB students in their research projects (which was a requirement to complete the LLB degree), I realised that I enjoyed teaching law and undertaking research. From that time, I knew that I would have to do a doctoral degree to enable me to do further research which would enhance my teaching law. After completing my doctoral degree at the University of Edinburgh in 2008, I joined the University of South Africa in June 2009 as a Senior Lecturer and worked my way through to the ranks of Associate Professor (in 2013) and to full Professor (in 2019). In September 2022, I was appointed at the University of Johannesburg as a Professor of Law and Vice Dean: Teaching and Learning.
Describe a highlight and your most significant contribution to legal academia
The highlight of my contribution to legal academia does not constitute of only one event. There are a few of them: having supervised masters and doctoral students in tax law to completion, who come from different backgrounds and from across the African continent. This gives me pleasure, that I have contributed to increasing qualified graduates in this area which is just growing. These graduates now work in different tax law fields within their countries, which is wonderful. Another significant highlight is when I was appointed a visiting lecturer at the University of Lusaka, Zambia between 2011 – 2014, where I contributed to designing and teaching an LLM programme in tax law. This is significant as I contributed to transfer of skills and knowledge to in tax law within Southern Africa, and this assisted them to build capacity within their country in this area of the law. As a result, the locally trained graduates then took over to teach and run the programme after 2014. The other highlight is when I was elected as the President of Society of Law Teachers For Southern Africa (SLTSA) in January 2017, as this gave me an opportunity to work with all the law teachers from the different institutions in Southern Africa and to exchange great ideas of how we can enhance teaching law.
Do you have any inspiring words for emerging law teachers?
They must persevere and work hard in order to reach bigger heights in the profession. They must always aim to be ‘good teacher of law’ despite how long they may have been teaching. They must also have a plan with clear timelines, in order to remind themselves of where they want to go and when they want to get there. Most importantly, they must serve as good mentors to the students they teach and engage with them beyond the classroom. Furthermore, they must ensure that they keep themselves motivated by doing research that will benefit their communities and society, in South Africa, the SADC region and Africa. As they rise, they must take along other academics with them and reach out to as many as they can to inspire them at any given time.