In memoriam Professor André (AJ) van der Walt (1956-2016)

prof-vd-walt-2014-200x300It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of André van der Walt, friend, role-model, and colleague. André was a world-class scholar and a renowned expert in constitutional property law. Early in his career he stayed in the Netherlands and obtained a PhD degree of Leiden university (under supervision of Robert Feenstra) in legal history.

During the time of the fall of the apartheid regime in his home country André developed a great interest in constitutional law, focusing on land reform and other property law aspects. In his work he brought together young and old(er) scholars to discuss matters of property law. His approach, he once described himself as that of a baboon looking under rocks to find what is under there, created a whole school of followers. In his time he supervised over 25 PhD researchers.

André first came to Maastricht in August 1995 to co-organise the conference Property on the threshold of the 21st century, together with Gerrit van Maanen, in which he brought together scholars from all over the world. He came back many times after that, always leaving us with interesting questions to answer and new ideas on research to explore. But most of all, André loved the company of young researchers. While enjoying the culinary tradition at whatever place he visited, he would discuss research ideas and set up further cooperation. An absolute highlight for many of us was his offer to host the Young Property Lawyers Forum of 2012, that brought young (and older) property lawyers to a spectacular conference to Stellenbosch in an ever more spectacular setting. André moved around as a godfather of us all. Many of us also enjoyed his and Christa’s hospitality at his wonderful Stellenbosch home.

André van der Walt was an invited fellow of MEPLI from its very beginning and some MEPLI fellows (Jan Smits, Sjef van Erp, Lars van Vliet and Bram Akkermans) were invited fellow to his South African Research Chair on Property Law.

André van der Walt leaves us with a gap that cannot be filled and with inspiration to pursue our research, to be brave and to enjoy very much what we are doing. Our deepest condolences and sympathy go out to Christa, his wife, his family and the remaining colleagues at the research chair as well as the Stellenbosch Law Faculty.

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