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Molemela takes up role as Supreme Court of Appeal head

Judge Mahube Betty Molemela Picture supplied

Judge Mahube Betty Molemela Picture supplied

Published May 30, 2023


Cape Town - Judge Mahube Betty Molemela starts a new job as president of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) with effect from Thursday, June 1, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the appointment last week.

Ramaphosa’s announcement came after consultations with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which recommended the judge for the position in April.

An overwhelming majority of the members of the JSC voted in support of Justice Molemela’s suitability. Ramaphosa also consulted with parliamentary party leaders over the appointment.

Judge Molemela is the second woman appointed to a senior position in the judiciary recently, after Judge Mandisa Maya was appointed deputy chief justice of the Constitutional Court.

Judge Molemela, who has been on the SCA Bench since 2018, has had a judicial career spanning more than 15 years, having first been appointed as a judge of the Free State division of the high court in 2008.

During her 15 years on the Bench, she served as the first woman judge president of the Free State High Court for three years before her elevation to the SCA. She has also served as a judge of the Labour Court and Labour Appeal Court, acting judge of the Competition Appeal Court, and acting judge of the Constitutional Court for two terms in 2015.

Campaign group Judges Matter said the president of the SCA is the thirdmost senior role in the judiciary in South Africa after the chief justice and his deputy. In April, when interviewing for the position, Judge Molemela described the SCA as the judicial “lodestar” in the country.

DA justice and constitutional development spokesperson Glynnis Breytenbach said: “Judge Molemela has a strong background that qualifies her for this position. She held the position of judge president of the Free State for eight years, and has been on the SCA Bench for four years.”

Action SA leader Herman Mashaba said the appointment was “a step in the right direction as part of the transformation of key institutions”. He said he hoped the appointment would contribute to making the judicial system more accessible to all South Africans.

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Cape Argus