Fond farewell for Justice Yacoob on his retirement

February 1st, 2013

By Nomfundo Manyathi

The Constitutional Court held a special court session in late November to bid farewell to Justice Zak Yacoob (64) ahead of his retirement at the end of January 2013.

Justice Yacoob, who became blind when he was 16-months-old as a result of meningitis, was lauded for never allowing his blindness to hold him back.

Justice Yacoob attended the Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind in Durban from 1956 to 1966. He then studied towards a BA degree at the now University of Durban-Westville and obtained his LLB degree at the same university in 1972.

Justice Yacoob served his pupillage in Durban in 1973 and was admitted as an advocate on 12 March that year. He joined the Constitutional Court in February 1998.

Justice Yacoob also served on the Independent Electoral Commission from December 1993 to June 1994 and on the panel of independent experts who advised the Constitutional Assembly in its constitution-writing task.

Lizette Prinsloo from the South African National Council for the Blind, of which Justice Yacoob is the former chairperson, told De Rebus that Justice Yacoob’s positive attitude towards life and his good humour were contagious. She said that he is regarded by many as one of the sharpest legal minds and is fair, has integrity, inspires and leads by example.

Ms Prinsloo said: ‘He did not let the fact that he is visually impaired prohibit him from leading a fulfilled life or deter him from making a positive difference in the world. I think one of the greatest lessons we learned from him during his time as chairperson of the organisation is to rather look for ways how challenges can be overcome than look for reasons why they cannot be overcome.’

Interviews by the Judicial Service Commission for a new Constitutional Court judge are scheduled to take place on 22 February.

Nomfundo Manyathi, 

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2013 (Jan/Feb) DR 11.

De Rebus