’Humble’ SCA deputy president dies days after wife - both Covid-19 victims
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DURBAN - HONOUR, humanity, humbleness and respect were some words used to describe the late former deputy president of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Judge Khayelihle Kenneth “KK” Mthiyane, who was laid to rest yesterday.
Mthiyane passed away on Thursday last week, due to Covid-19-related complications, just a few days after his wife, S’thandiwe, had passed away.
After service for many years in the courts, the 77-year-old was deputy president of the appeal court from 2012 until 2014, when he retired.
Speaking during the Special Official Funeral Category 2 at the Natal Sharks Board in Durban, one of Mthiyane’s four daughters, Bajabulile Mthiyane, said that her father had played a vital role in their upbringing.
Bajabulile said their father’s legacy would remain in the country’s history books for generations to come.
Describing her father, she said that Mthiyane was a man of stature and always remained humble.
“Our father gave us a picture of who God is in heaven. He has truly inspired all of us to be the best that we can be. His work speaks on his behalf, a true gentleman. I look for one word that could define him, and I chose love,” said Babulile.
She said that Mthiyane would be remembered for always going out of his way, selflessly, to be generous at all times.
“He planted a seed in us that we are all winners; he lifted our confidence, and made us feel special and capable,” she said.
President of the Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Mandisa Maya said Mthiyane played a major role in her life and career from the first day she came to the supreme court.
Maya said that as the first and only woman judge president in the SCA’s history, she felt like a total misfit. However, she said, Mthiyane took it upon himself to mentor her.
Maya said Mthiyane would encourage her to bounce her views off him about cases for which she sat, and checked her judgments before she circulated them to her colleagues in her hearing panels.
“He did them to see if they were up to scratch, and continued to do that until I was confident enough to assert myself and write my own dissenting judgments against seasoned colleagues.”
She said that Mthiyane encouraged her to take up a permanent post in the court when she felt she had had enough and wanted to leave.
“He later also persuaded me to take up a court leadership position, thus securing the court’s first woman deputy president and president in over a century. He did not provide this support only to me, he was a pillar of straight to all his colleagues,” said Maya.
Maya said Mthiyane’s passing ha left a gaping hole not just in his family, but also in the entire nation.
“We have lost a dedicated and outstanding jurist who still had so much to give to this country and people. We will miss him,” added Maya.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said Mthiyane’s death was a double-barrel blow as he had contributed a lot to the county’s judicial system.
Mogoeng said his death came as a shock because he was on a verge of signing a letter appointing Mthiyane to chair a judicial conduct tribunal. He said that two other people who were to serve in that tribunal were already aware that he was going to be leading it.
“Now the whole thing has been scrapped. He continued long after his retirement to chair a committee that was responsible for the transformation of the judicial system. We have lost out,” he said.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said that the blow cut closer to the bone when bearing in mind that Mthiyane was unable to pay his last respects to his better half as he was in hospital during her funeral.
Zikalala said in a country that had unashamedly enforced a crime against humanity, Mthiyane thought the best way to fight this legalised repression was through the very instrument of law.
“Above all, he excelled because he had an understanding that his vocation was a call to serve,” said Zikalala.
The late Justice Mthiyane practised for many years as an attorney and later as an advocate in Durban.
He had attained the status of Senior Counsel as an advocate when he was appointed as a Judge of the KZN Division of the High Court in 1997.
Mthiyane was later appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal and, after serving for some years in that court, was appointed its deputy president, which was the position he held until he retired in 2014.
Mthiyane was laid to rest on the same day he died at Redhill Cemetery in Durban.