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Zondo pays tribute to Justices Khampepe and Jafta as they retire from Constitutional Court

A judge in green robes sitting in court

Justice Sisi Khampepe at the Constitutional Court. File Photo: Screengrab from SABC feed

Published Oct 14, 2021


Pretoria - Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has expressed gratitude and appreciation to Justices Sisi Khampepe and Chris Jafta who on Monday retired from the Constitutional Court.

Soweto-born Khampepe has had a trailblazing legal career spanning over 40 years.

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Zondo saluted Khampepe for her “selfless service to the people of South Africa, adding that she contributed massively to the independence of the judiciary.

“On behalf of my colleagues in the Constitutional Court and the Judiciary as a whole, I wish to express our deep appreciation to Justice Khampepe for her selfless service to the people of South Africa, for her commitment to the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, for her role in strengthening our constitutional democracy during her term of office as a justice of the Constitutional Court and for her immense contribution to our jurisprudence,” said Zondo.

“I wish Justice Khampepe everything of the best during her well-deserved retirement.”

Throughout her career, Justice Khampepe served in a number of positions of note. In 1995, she was appointed by President Nelson Mandela as one of the commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

In 2004 President Thabo Mbeki appointed her together, with Justice Dikgang Moseneke to oversee elections in Zimbabwe.

In February 2006 the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Donald McKinnon seconded her as a member of the Commonwealth observer group to the presidential and parliamentary elections in Uganda.

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From 2005 to 2006, she chaired a commission of enquiry that came to be known as the Khampepe Commission and 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.

Justice Khampepe’s judicial career commenced with her appointment 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.

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Her elevation to the apex court of South Africa, the Constitutional Court, took effect in October 2009. On two occasions since her appointment as a justice of the court, she has served as the acting deputy chief justice.

Justice Chris Jafta in the Constitutional Court. File Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Zondo also paid tribute Justice Chris Jafta, who retired this week after 12 years of service as a justice of the Constitutional Court.

“On behalf of my colleagues in the Constitutional Court and the judiciary as a whole I thank Justice Jafta for his contribution to the development of our law, for the service he rendered in various courts of our country and for his contribution to the promotion and protection of the independence of the judiciary,” said Zondo.

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“I wish him everything of the best during his retirement.”

Jafta obtained his B Juris and LLB degrees from the University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University) in 1983 and 1987 respectively. He had started his career as a court interpreter in 1983.

He was appointed as a district court public prosecutor at the beginning of 1984. Jafta worked in that capacity until December 1985 when his authority to prosecute was withdrawn by the attorney-general at the instance 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.

In July 1986, Jafta was appointed as a magistrate.

In October 2009, Jafta was appointed as a justice of the Constitutional Court in which capacity he served until Monday the 11th October 2021.

For some time Jafta served as a member of the Council of the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI).

Zondo said Jafta had made a huge contribution to South Africa’s jurisprudence.