Judge Dhaya Pillay to serve as acting justice in the ConCourt - UFS

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Judge Dhaya Pillay.
Judge Dhaya Pillay.
  • Judge Dhaya Pillay is currently acting as justice in the Constitutional Court. 
  • She will serve in that position for the first two terms of 2021. 
  • She will also be vying for one position on the Constitutional Court bench this month.  

Judge Dhaya Pillay, who has been shortlisted by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for a Constitutional Court vacancy, has been appointed as acting justice in the same court. 

According to a University of Free State (UFS) statement on Wednesday, Pillay will serve for the first two terms of 2021.

Pillay is a professor in the Free State Centre for Human Rights at UFS' faculty of Law. She was nominated for a Constitutional Court post by the Free State Centre for Human Rights.

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The JSC will interview candidates for vacancies in various superior courts from next week.  

Pillay joined the Constitutional Court from her KwaZulu-Natal High Court position, where she has served since 2009. She has also served for an acting term in the Supreme Court of Appeal and was a judge in the Labour Court.

The judge joined the Free State Centre for Human Rights as Extraordinary Professor in December 2020.

Some of her high-profile cases include ruling in favour of former minister Derek Hanekom in a defamation case brought against former president Jacob Zuma.  


She also made headlines after issuing a warrant of arrest for the former president after he failed to appear in court.

At the time, the judge was not satisfied with the "sick note" Zuma's lawyers produced as evidence of his alleged ill-health.  

According to Judges Matter, Pillay is an expert in labour matters and one of the Labour Relations Act drafters.  

The university said in its statement that Pillay had "dedicated her professional life to the pursuit of transformation through law and has a wealth of experience as a defender of human rights".

"As attorney in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, she focused her work on assisting political detainees during the states of emergency, as well as other politically related cases. 

"She was a judge of the Labour Court from 2000 to 2010, after which she was appointed to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, where she still serves. She has served as judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal and is a commissioner of the Independent Electoral Commission."

Pillay obtained her doctorate in law from the University of Pretoria in April 2020. The university said Pillay is currently converting her thesis into a book, which is to be published towards the end of 2021.  

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