Justice Edwin Cameron says "the peril confronting the country" remains too large, adding that tough times still lie ahead for those who are committed to democracy and to governance under law.
Cameron was speaking at a special ceremonial session of the Constitutional Court to mark his retirement.
During his address on Tuesday, Cameron said: "I do not think, Chief Justice, that any single one of us feels the slightest self-satisfaction, complacency or self-congratulation – not at all."
"There is still too much to be done and the peril confronting our country in the rule of law remains too large…
"Tough times lie ahead for those of us who are committed to democracy and to governance under law and to social justice for all people in our country and not the enrichment of an inside elite."
Cameron also thanked Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and his colleagues.
He said his greatest gratitude was being "here at all".
"I have survived a pandemic many have perished living under," he said, referring to his HIV status.
"Chief Justice Mogoeng and my colleagues, I thank you from my heart. It has not been easy for any of us," he said
Cameron was appointed to the Constitutional Court in 2008 by then acting president Kgalema Motlanthe.
He said, over the past 10 years, the workload of the court had increased, adding that they have confronted deeply divisive issues on race, including affirmative action, language rights and culture.
"Landmark judgments over these years have ensured that public power remained subject to our constitutional values and the rule of law and that public accountability is sustained.
"Through all of the difficulties we worked hard as colleagues to try find ways to fulfil our commitment to our Constitution, while being truthful to our judicial oaths but also respectful of each other."
Cameron also said that, since 2011, they had had Mogoeng's "remarkable leadership".
He said Mogoeng advocated for truth leadership against corruption and lies.
"In other words, Chief Justice, you are a tough guy… I pay homage to you this morning," he said.
Among those who attended the ceremony were National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke and President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Mandisa Maya.
Cameron worked as a human rights lawyer during apartheid, defended ANC members and fought for gay and lesbian equality, according to his profile on the Constitutional Court's website.
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