Retired Pretoria judge Pierre Roux dies

2017-03-11 22:24
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Pretoria – Pierre Roux, a retired judge of the Gauteng Division of the High Court who tackled cases such as the right of gay people to marry, died last week at the age of 84.

Announcing his death on March 3, the Judge President of that division, Judge Dunstan Mlambo, said Roux had 17 years' active service at the bench before his retirement in 2003.

According to media archives, Roux presided over the application that first set South Africa on the path to legalising gay marriage.

Marie Fourie and Cecilia Bonthuys had approached the court for their union to be legally recognised by the Department of Home Affairs, as a challenge to laws which stated that only men and women could marry.

In 2002, Roux dismissed the application on a technicality – they had not challenged the constitutionality of the Marriage Act.

The case went on appeal, and eventually the Constitutional Court in 2005 found that the definition of a married couple in the Marriage Act was unfair, discriminatory and unconstitutional and in 2006 the laws were changed to recognise their union.

He had also presided over an attempt at seizing the assets of apartheid era military doctor and cardiologist Wouter Basson.

Basson had headed a secret chemical warfare unit and his charges had included drug trafficking, fraud and embezzlement, murder and conspiracy to murder after he did not seek amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In 2002, Roux set aside an order authorising the then-National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka to seize assets valued at R44m from Basson while he awaited trial. Basson was eventually acquitted.

Mlambo said that Roux was born on January 13, 1933 in Pretoria and matriculated at Pretoria Boys High School.

He graduated from Stellenbosch University in 1955 with a BA LLB degree and was admitted as an advocate in 1956, and took Silk in 1977.

He was admitted as an advocate in Botswana in 1976.

During 1982 and 1983, he was an acting judge at the then-Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court and in 1986 he was permanently appointed as a judge of the same High Court, Pretoria.

Roux had also acted as a judge at the Bophuthatswana High Court, Mmabatho, during February 2002.

He retired in 2003 at the age of 70.

He leaves four children, Charles, Pierre, Andrew and Nan, and seven grandchildren.

Mlambo said that Roux's eldest son, two of his daughters-in-law and his son-in-law all followed in his footsteps in the legal profession, as advocates.

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