SA may quickly have its first girl Chief Justice: right here’s who she is


The place turned vacant after the 12-year time period of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ended in October 2021.

It’s now as much as President Cyril Ramaphosa to determine if she really ascends to the very best judicial place within the nation. This follows what many take into account to have been a shambolic choice course of.

If appointed, she’ll be the primary girl Chief Justice since South Africa turned a constitutional democracy following the top of apartheid in 1994.

Listed below are some attention-grabbing information you might want to find out about Decide Maya.

The early years

Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya was born in Tsolo, Japanese Cape, one of many nation’s poorest areas, which borders the Indian Ocean, in 1964. She has 5 youthful siblings, three youngsters and is married to Dabulamanzi Mlokoti. Each her dad and mom have been lecturers.

She grew up in King William’s City and Mthatha the place she matriculated (completed highschool) from St John’s Faculty, in 1981. The varsity is without doubt one of the oldest – and one of the extremely rated – within the nation. It it carefully related to the Anglican Church of South Africa, having been established in 1879 by a Church of England missionary.

Maya’s early childhood have been within the former Ciskei, which was one of many 4 Bantustans or homelands – along with Transkei, Bophuthatswana, and Venda – which have been granted nominal independence by the apartheid authorities. They have been among the primarily rural and impoverished areas put aside by the apartheid authorities the place black folks exercised nominal “self-rule” alongside ethnic strains. They provided little alternative for development and upward mobility.

However, rising up in a Bantustan didn’t deter Maya’s from her dedication to justice and human rights noticed her pursuing research in legislation. She holds B.Proc from the College of Transkei, LLB (College of Natal), and LLM (Duke College, North Carolina within the USA). She is a Fulbright Scholar, was a fellow of Georgetown College legislation and gender programme in addition to a Commonwealth Basis fellow and a Duke Legislation Faculty Worldwide Alumnus.

Profession and achievements

Maya begun her authorized profession as an lawyer’s clerk in knowledgeable agency in Mthatha. She went on to develop into courtroom interpreter and prosecutor of the Magistrates’ Court docket within the city. This was adopted by the job of Assistant State Legislation Adviser earlier than she did her pupillage on the Johannesburg Bar. She subsequently turned a a practising advocate related to the Transkei Society of Advocates.

Maya additionally had a stint as Legislation Lecturer on the College of Transkei.

The positions she held earlier than changing into a decide imbued in her values that make her an appropriate candidate for Chief Justice. These embody beliefs and values of integrity, impartiality, skilled ethics and courtroom decorum.

She additionally has a footprint in different jurisdictions – notably Lesotho, Namibia and US. In Washington DC she was coverage counsel and lobbyist intern on the Ladies’s Authorized Protection Fund. She has additionally acted as a decide within the Supreme Court docket of Namibia and the Attraction Court docket of Lesotho.

In 2016 Decide Maya turned the primary girl President of South Africa’s Supreme Court docket of Attraction. The Supreme Court docket of Attraction, established in 1910, is the nation’s second highest courtroom after the Constitutional Court docket. This makes her the third most senior decide in South Africa after the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice.

She has been honoured and acknowledged within the authorized career, together with honorary doctorates of legislation by quite a few universities. Her management qualities have been recognised in numerous different methods too. For instance, she was elected the President of the South African Chapter of the Worldwide Affiliation of Ladies Judges.

Highlights on the bench

Her years on the bench, together with the present place, have been characterised by the championing of kids and ladies’s rights, the poor, and plenty of different marginalised teams.

In 2012 she obtained the South African Ladies Attorneys Icon award  for her function in empowering and mentoring ladies in each the judiciary and the broader authorized career.

Maya is without doubt one of the few judges in South Africa with a robust dedication to altering the strategy of judges in adjudicating gender-based violence and femicide circumstances.

She instructed a summit on gender primarily based violence and femicide in 2018:

So whereas there was a marked ideological shift within the methods judges adjudicate issues referring to gender-based violence and femicide in latest instances, together with the abolition of cautionary rule in respect of sexual offences, and the conduct of many judicial officers could be recommended, the destiny of those victims shouldn’t be left to the off-chance that the person Judges listening to their circumstances can be attuned to the sensitivities. There ought to be a formalisation and standardisation of those norms in order that it’s incumbent on the Courts to pay explicit consideration to the therapy of victims in these circumstances.

Via her judgments she has demonstrated complete information of the legislation and the Structure. She can be thought-about a jurisprudential thought chief on condition that a few of her judgments have – straight and not directly – influenced nation-building.

As an example, within the 2020 AfriForum NPC v Chairperson of the Council of the College of South Africa and Others case, she dominated that the elimination of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction on the College of South Africa was illegal and unconstitutional. The choice was later confirmed by the Constitutional Court docket.

Her dissenting minority judgment in Minister of Security and Safety v F, 2011 significantly influenced the choice of the Constitutional Court docket. The Constitutional Court docket reversed the Supreme Court docket of Attraction’s majority choice and confirmed her minority choice.

The matter earlier than the Supreme Court docket of Appeals was a couple of declare for damages arising from the rape of a girl by an off-duty policeman. Nearly all of the courtroom held that the Minister of Security and Safety was not vicariously liable as a result of the policeman dedicated the rape when he was off obligation. Maya penned a dissenting judgment through which she argued that members of the police providers have been entrusted with the constitutional function and the accountability to conduct themselves correctly to foster the neighborhood’s belief. And that this might not be suspended as a result of a member was off obligation.

Chief Justice function

If appointed, Maya would have overcome profession labyrinths confronted by all feminine judges in South Africa.

She can be exercising accountability over the institution and monitoring of norms and requirements for the train of the judicial features of all courts within the Republic.

The steeliness with which she would strategy the job was mirrored in her response to the query: Is South Africa prepared for a girl chief justice? She responded:

I’m not right here as a result of I’m a girl, I’m a worthy decide … I’m only a good girl decide.

Omphemetse Sibanda is Govt Dean and Full Professor, College of Limpopo School of Administration and Legislation, College of Limpopo.

This text is republished from The Dialog beneath a Inventive Commons license. Learn the unique article.


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