President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Raymond Zondo as the next chief justice of South Africa. The appointment will take effect from 1 April 2022, the presidency said in a statement on Thursday evening (10 March).
In terms of the Constitution, the chief justice is the head of the judiciary and exercises responsibility over the establishment and monitoring of norms and standards for the exercise of the judicial functions of all courts.
“The president’s decision follows consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and leaders of parties in the National Assembly on four nominees for appointment as chief justice,” it said.
“With Zondo assuming the position of chief justice, the position of deputy chief justice will become vacant. Ramaphosa has accordingly indicated his intention, once the new chief justice assumes office, to nominate justice Mandisa Maya for the position of deputy chief justice. This nomination will be subject to the process outlined in Section 174(3) of the Constitution.
“The inclusive process of selecting the next chief justice demonstrated not only the value that South Africans place on the judiciary, but also the depth of experience and capability within the senior ranks of the judiciary,” Ramaphosa said.
“The position of chief justice carries a great responsibility in our democracy. As the head of the judiciary, the chief justice is a guardian of our Constitution and the laws adopted by the freely elected representatives of the people.
“The chief justice stand as the champion of the rights of all South Africans and bears responsibility for ensuring equal access to justice. I have every confidence that justice Zondo will acquit himself with distinction in this position.”
Zondo previously held the position of deputy chief justice of South Africa and has previously held in several key leadership positions in the judiciary – including as a Constitutional Court judge and as judge president of the Labour Appeal Court.
Most recently he also chaired the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture – which colloquially became known as the ‘Zondo Commission’.
Zondo served part of his articles of clerkship under the late Mrs Victoria Mxenge in the latter’s law firm in Durban. After Mxenge’s assassination by apartheid agents, Zondo ceded his articles of clerkship to Mthembu & Partners and later to Chennels Alberton Attorneys.
After admission as an attorney, he became a partner in a Durban law firm, Mathe and Zondo Incorporated, in which he practised for a number of years before he was appointed as a judge.