Justice Edwin Cameron. Picture: AP

Johannesburg - Tuesday, August 20 2019 will officially mark the end of an era as Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron retires after 25 years as a judge.

The court will hold a special sitting in honour of Justice Cameron at a formal sitting.

Cameron, who is openly gay and was one of the first public figures to disclose his HIV status, first graced the bench as an acting judge on 20 August 1994 until December of the same year.

The late president Nelson Mandela later appointed him permanently with effect from January 1 1995. 

"Whilst on the High Court Bench, he also served as a Judge of the Labour Appeal Court for a few years.  He was next appointed to the Supreme Court of Appeal by President Mbeki with effect from 1 January 2001.  On 1 January 2009 he joined the Constitutional Court after being appointed by President Motlanthe.  He served there for 10 years eight months," the Constitutional Court said in a statement.

According to his profile on the Constitutional Court website, Justice Cameron practised at the Johannesburg Bar from 1983 to 1994. From 1986 he was a human rights lawyer based at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), where he was later  awarded a personal professorship in law. 

"His practice included labour and employment law, defence of ANC fighters charged with treason, conscientious and religious objection, land tenure and forced removals as well as and gay and lesbian equality. 

"From 1988 he advised the National Union of Mineworkers on Aids/HIV and helped draft and negotiate the industry’s first comprehensive Aids agreement with the Chamber of Mines. 

"While at CALS, he drafted the Charter of Rights on Aids and HIV, co-founded the AIDS Consortium (a national affiliation of non-governmental organizations working in Aids) which he chaired for its first three years and founded and was the first director of the Aids Law Project. 

"He oversaw the gay and lesbian movement’s submissions to the Kempton Park negotiating process. 

"This, with other work, helped secure the express inclusion of sexual orientation in the South African Constitution. In September 1994, he was awarded silk (senior counsel status)."

The Star