Black Lawyers Association KwaZulu-Natal branch celebrates Chief Justice Zondo

November 17th, 2022

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo having a joyous moment at his celebratory dinner in Durban.

The Black Lawyers Association’s KwaZulu-Natal branch (BLA-KZN) held a special celebratory dinner in honour of the Chief Justice of South Africa, Justice Raymond Zondo. The dinner was held in Chief Justice Zondo’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal in October 2022. The Chairperson of the BLA-KZN, Nonduduzo Khanyile, said that the BLA-KZN saw it fit to celebrate Chief Justice Zondo because he is a son of the province. ‘The reason really, as I said, is to celebrate the Chief Justice, which is not every day that we have, especially those of the practitioners coming from the ranks of attorneys. And now you are sitting at the pinnacle of the judicial office in the country. If that is not worth celebrating, what should we celebrate?’

Black Lawyers Association’s KwaZulu-Natal Branch Chairperson, Nonduduzo Khanyile, during her opening address at the dinner that her branch held in honour of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in Durban.

Ms Khanyile added that the BLA-KZN has the responsibility to inspire the younger generation who are rising in the profession. She pointed out that her branch felt that it was an opportune time to host the celebratory dinner as the branch is coming into office and, at the same time, Chief Justice Zondo has been elevated to his role as Chief Justice. She said that there is so much negativity in the world and the branch wanted the dinner to be an antidote to such negativity. ‘These stories and feel-good stories are hardly told most of the time. It is nice to converge like this, just to celebrate one of us and say well done, we see you, we acknowledge you and to keep the good work going’, she said.

Regarding inspiring young legal practitioners, Ms Khanyile said the branch wanted to watch the career of the Chief Justice and see what can be emulated to become the best they can be. ‘When we were tracking your career, I said that I did not have that opportunity to have a one on one while you were still in practice. But I spoke to your peers to see what is it that has made you to be here,’ Ms Khanyile said. She pointed out that with all the people she spoke to there were three things that came to light about Chief Justice Zondo, namely, his humility; diligence; and good draftsmanship.

Acting Judge President of the KwaZulu-Natal Division of the High Court, Mjabuliseni Isaac Madondo, gave a congratulatory speech at the dinner that was held in honour of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in October 2022.

KwaZulu-Natal Acting Judge President, Mjabuliseni Isaac Madondo, delivered a congratulatory message to Chief Justice Zondo at the dinner. He said that he was glad to be attending the celebration of the elevation of Chief Justice Zondo to the position of Chief Justice. He pointed out that together with Chief Justice Zondo, they have known each other for 41 years. He pointed out that he had a conversation with Chief Justice Zondo and told him that he aimed low, but God placed him in a high position, now that he is Chief Justice. Acting Judge President Madondo said that they did not know they were sitting with the future Chief Justice back then. He also shared some of the fond and funny memories he shared with Chief Justice Zondo while they were still students.

President of the Black Lawyers Association, Bayethe Maswazi, spoke at the celebratory dinner that was hosted by the Black Lawyers Association’s KwaZulu-Natal Branch.

President of the BLA, Bayethe Maswazi, in his remarks said that he struggled when he thought about what he was going to say in his congratulatory remarks to Chief Justice Zondo. He pointed out that no one appoints himself as a Chief Justice or a judge and in the appointment process one has an option to say yes or no to the position. He added that if one says no, one will have to ponder and ask if South Africans pose to one such responsibility how can one say no? Mr Bayethe said equally if one says yes, they would have recognised the responsibilities that resides in the Office of the Chief Justice.

Mr Maswazi added that one might even have to ponder seriously and might even ask ‘if not me, then who?’ He said that the role of a Chief Justice is a role bestowed to one by South Africans to march forward as a commander of a detachment of crusaders for justice. ‘Our judiciary has been exemplary in answering positively the moral demands of the Constitution. It has done so much better than the two other arms of our democratic state. We are here today Chief Justice to recognise you, we are fortifying the understanding that you will contain in keeping that legacy of a judiciary that must always point to the right direction,’ Mr Maswazi said. He said they were there to allow the Chief Justice Zondo to champion the position of Chief Justice.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at his celebratory dinner held in his honour by the Black Lawyers Association’s KwaZulu-Natal Branch.

Chief Justice Zondo during his speech thanked the BLA-KZN for honouring him with the dinner. He then spoke about his journey of getting to where he was. Chief Justice Zondo pointed out that there are certain people in his life that have made a tremendous contribution to what he has become. He spoke of the role that was played by his late mother, whom he said sacrificed a lot to bring him and his siblings up as a single parent. He pointed out that his mother emphasised the importance of education to her children while they were very young.

Chief Justice Zondo paid tribute to the late Victoria Mxenge, whom he said played a role in him becoming who he is today. He said that at the time of doing his articles of clerkship, Ms Mxenge’s law firm did not have articles of clerkship. However, he said Ms Mxenge said she took him because she thought Chief Justice Zondo could help her law firm start a labour department. He said that Ms Mxenge’s law firm had a lot of labour work but said people at her law firm did not know labour law at the time, as it was new. He pointed out that the most important thing that he got from his encounter with Ms Mxenge was the confidence she showed in him, by trusting him to run her labour law department. ‘I take this opportunity to say I am deeply indebted to Ms Mxenge. It is a pity her family is not here, but throughout my life I will always remember the contribution that she made,’ Chief Justice Zondo said.

President of the Law Society of South Africa and Deputy President of the Black Lawyers Association, Mabaeng Denise Lenyai, was one of the programme directors at the celebratory dinner that was held in honour of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in Durban.

Chief Justice Zondo showed gratitude to his wife whom he said has been a pillar of support to him. He added that when he looked back on his journey, he realised that there were other people who showed confidence in him. Among others were retired Judge Christopher Nicholson who was a Director of the Legal Resources Centre. Chief Justice Zondo shared how he called Justice Nicholson to ask for a job before he did his articles of clerkship at Ms Mxenge’s law firm. He said Justice Nicholson showed confidence in giving him work at the Legal Resources Centre without wanting many references. He also mentions his high school principal who helped him with money for university registration and transport fees. Chief Justice Zondo mentioned and acknowledge individuals and organisations who through the years have shown confidence in him.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.

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