black women in law, Pearl Makhunga


Legal eagle Pearl Makhunga rolls with the who’s who of the South African legal fraternity.  (We’re talking Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, Judge President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Mandisa Maya, and former deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke – amongst other judicial and political heavyweights). But, it’s her passion for paying it forward that’s changing the lives of underprivileged children and youth beyond reasonable doubt…

Raised by a single mom, in KZN’s Umlazi township, Pearl relates how the #BossLadies in her life have shaped the course of her trajectory.

“I was raised by a teacher who then became a School Principal so I really had no excuse to perform poorly academically. This powerhouse of strong, God-fearing, educated, and independent women including my late grandmother, mother and older sister encouraged me to participate in public speaking at school. Soon after, I became President of the Debating Society as well as the English Academy. During my 3rd year LLB studies, I participated in Moot Court. This is a mock court where law students argue imaginary cases for practice. I became one of the three KZN Moot Court Champions”.

Pearl has taken a break from her own private legal advisory firm, Forbes Legal in Durban, and is currently enrolled in Pupillage. This 12-month training programme enables you to become a member of the Johannesburg Bar Society of Advocates. The petite 29 year old still finds time to run the Makhunga Law Students Mentorship Programme. And she tutors primary school children from previously disadvantaged communities.

“My mother was in the Teaching profession for more than 40 years. I often saw her dedicate her spare time to teaching kids how to read and write.

She would buy food, clothes and school uniforms from her own pocket for many schoolchildren in need.

She would also tell me of the plight of many students and how she yearned to help. This is where my passion for helping the less fortunate was born”.


Paying it forward

Seeing the glaring lack of mentorship and positive role models in her community, Pearl founded the Makhunga Law Students Mentorship Programme. 

  • This KZN based initiative currently, boasts 150 students
  • teaches Law students from 1st year to 3rd year and prepares them for Moot Court
  • provides Maths and English lessons for poorly performing primary and high school children

For more information/ enquiries regarding the Programme, e-mail:

Court Adjourned

We were inspired by this piece on the 7 THINGS SUCCESSFUL WOMEN DO DIFFERENTLY ON THE WEEKENDS . So, we asked Pearl how she spends her ‘down time’ and found that there’s just no stopping this legal dynamo.

“My friends love hiking so I decided to join them once and actually loved it. I now try and go hiking with them every 2 to 3 weeks.  That’s if I’m not catching up on my favourite author, John Grisham’s legal thriller books.

When time permits, I also blog about African Customary Law, to shine a light on customary marriages.  I also advise businesses on the pros and cons of verbal and contractual agreements – an area I’ve seen most people struggle with, resulting in disputes that even end working relationships”.

#BossLady Opinion: Are you involved in any mentorship programmes? Share them with us below.

P.S. Pearl’s legal advisary firm, Forbes Legal is hiring! For any career-related enquiries, e-mail:



Leave a Reply