1. Tell us about yourself. What did you study and what are you doing now?
Johannes: I studied law in Germany and completed my law articles before starting with an LL.M. at Stellenbosch University at the beginning of 2021. After returning to Germany, I started a PhD-thesis in international criminal law in early 2022, which I’m currently still working on. I live in Stuttgart, where I’m also part of the Maties Alumni Chapter team.
Hannes: Just like Johannes, I also studied law, but in the north of Germany. During my articles, which included a stage in Bangkok, I was gripped by wanderlust and thus wanted to complete an LL.M. afterwards. South Africa, the country of my birth, was an excellent choice. Now I’m working in my first job as in-house counsel for an international confectionery company based in Berlin. I can imagine worse jobs.
2. When did you meet?
Johannes: The first time we met in person was the first week after our arrival in Stellenbosch in March 2021, when we had a coffee at Schoon. However, we were already in contact before that, as we have a mutual friend who brought us together. Therefore, we already communicated with each other before our arrival in South Africa and discussed the LL.M., South Africa and the Covid situation.
Hannes: Meeting Johannes was like a match: Not only do we kind of look alike, but we are also passionate about the same things (especially coffee), have the same sense of humour and are both very interested in sports. Some people say we could also be siblings.
3. What interested you about being part of the Matie network?
Johannes: I think, the network is a great way to stay involved with the university after graduating from Stellenbosch, to organise meetings for the Maties in my region and to celebrate the motto “Once a Matie, always a Matie”.
Hannes: I am happy if I can contribute to South Africans being able to maintain contacts with each other abroad. And if they all have the same connection to South Africa, i.e., having studied in Stellenbosch, all the better!
4. What do you like about the Matie network?
Johannes: The network is awesome, there are so many Maties around the globe to get in touch with. Moreover, among the Maties there are so many exciting and nice personalities from different countries, backgrounds and professions.
Hannes: Above all, I enjoy staying in touch with the English language and with South Africans and their mentality. At our events, the South Africans regularly bring typical delicacies from South Africa, for example Mrs Ball’s chutney at braais – or they make the delicacies themselves in Germany, such as droëwors, biltong or milk tart. Is there anything better than being spoiled with these homemade specialties?
5. What would you say to alumni about volunteering for Team Stuttgart/Team Berlin? Time, activities, meeting Maties locally?
Johannes: Volunteering with Team Stuttgart is very easy and uncomplicated. Anyone who wants to can simply get in touch and, depending on the time available, participate in the organisation and planning. Apart from the planning of official events (about twice a year), as a member of the Team Stuttgart WhatsApp group you can always suggest spontaneous events or invite people to a gathering (e.g. to watch the Rugby World Cup). Therefore: All Maties from the Stuttgart region, get in touch!
Hannes: Just like with Johannes in Stuttgart, being part of Team Berlin is very easy. The nice thing about it is that you can get involved as your personal time allows – and that it’s not a big effort to get alumni together. We plan regular events and try to meet about every three or four months. By now, a small core has formed that is excited to see the group continue to grow!
6. Do you have a memory that stands out about your time at Stellies?
Johannes: The year in Stellenbosch was overall one great memory that will never be forgotten. But one special memory that connects the two of us was participating together in Coach Desmond’s soccer try-outs for the Maties team at the Lentelus Sportsground.
Hannes: … not successfully though. However, one of my most impressive memories also concerns sports. While I was exploring Jonkershoek on the mountain bike with a friend, I had an unfortunate accident and fell. When I looked at my left hand, the upper part of my pinkie was sticking out almost at a right angle – immediately I suspected that an operation would be necessary. Johannes imitated me a few days later and unfortunately broke his foot while climbing rocks at Boulders Beach. Luckily, we could rely on the medical care in South Africa.
Anyways, I especially enjoyed the sports opportunities and nature in Stellenbosch – whether hiking, tennis or mountain biking.