Justices Sisi Khampepe and Chris Jafta join Mogoeng in retirement from ConCourt

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The Constitutional Court building.
The Constitutional Court building.
Roger de la Harpe, Gallo Images
  • Two other adept legal minds have joined former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in retirement.  
  • Constitutional Court Justices Sisi Khampepe and Chris Jafta retired from the apex court.
  • Their successors have big shoes to fill, acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo says.

Seasoned Constitutional Court Justices Sisi Khampepe, and Chris Jafta have joined their former boss Mogoeng Mogoeng in retirement.

The two veteran legal minds hung up their gowns with Mogoeng on Monday.

Khampepe, who hails from Soweto, travelled the country and parts of the world seeking education that nurtured her illustrious law experience.

In 1995, Khampepe was appointed by former president Nelson Mandela as one of the commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  

READ | 8 candidates nominated for chief justice post, including Zondo, Maya and Mlambo

In 2004, President Thabo Mbeki appointed her together with now-retired Justice Dikgang Moseneke to oversee the Zimbabwean elections. 

She gained popularity when she chaired the Commission of Enquiry, popularly known as the Khampepe Commission, between 2005 and 2006. 

In February 2006, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Donald C McKinnon, seconded her as a member of the Commonwealth Observer Group to the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Uganda.  

The commission looked into the mandate and location of the Directorate of Special Operations, commonly known as the Scorpions. 

She was also the vice-chairperson of the National Council of Correctional Services from 2005 to April 2010.

READ | Justice Khampepe: Zuma gave ConCourt 'no choice' but to imprison him

Khampepe was appointed as a judge of the Gauteng Division of the High Court in December 2000.  

She later served as Acting Deputy Judge President of the Labour Appeal Court and Labour Court. 

Her elevation to the Constitutional Court took effect in October 2009. On two occasions since her appointment as a justice of the Constitutional Court, she served as the acting Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic.

Acting Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, said:

Khampepe's time on the bench of the Constitutional Court is marked and celebrated as a period during which she eloquently developed jurisprudence on the rights of women, children and other vulnerable members of society. She will also be remembered for her judicial bravery and unfailing fidelity to the rule of law.

He continued: "Her last two well-known judgments related to the work of the state of capture commission of inquiry and strengthened the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law.  

"She is celebrated by her colleagues and the legal community as a jurist of vast intellect, uncompromising integrity and inimitable style. She led and followed with grace, kindness, and diligence. Her quiet, yet fierce strength, will be sorely missed but remembered with gratitude and admiration."

READ | Hlophe interfered, says judge

Jafta began his career as a court interpreter in 1983 and was appointed as a District Court Public Prosecutor at the beginning of 1984. 

Sisi Khampepe.

In December 1985, his authority to prosecute was withdrawn by the attorney-general at the insistence of the apartheid government security police and he was demoted to the position of an administrative clerk. 

This occurred after he had rejected instructions from the security police on how he should conduct prosecutions in some cases. 

Jafta was briefly detained and subjected to an intense interrogation by the security police. 

SANDTON, SOUTH AFRICA ? APRIL 07: Constitutional C
Chris Jafta, pictured in 2009.

In 1997, Jafta was appointed as an acting Judge of the High Court Transkei Division for four months and was permanently appointed two years later.

Between June to October 2004, he was an acting Judge of Appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

In November 2004, he was appointed as a Judge of Appeal in the SCA.

In October 2009, Justice Jafta was appointed as a Justice of the Constitutional Court until 11 October 2021. 

Zondo thanked Jafta for his contribution to the development of the law, for the service rendered in various courts and his contribution to the promotion and protection of the independence of the judiciary.

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