The legal fraternity celebrates historic appointment of the first female Deputy Chief Justice

August 31st, 2022

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) welcomed the appointment of the first female Deputy Chief Justice, Justice Mandisa Maya. In its statement, the President of the LSSA, Mabaeng Lenyai, said the LSSA, on behalf of the attorney’s profession, conveys the highest esteem on her appointment.

The President’s office released a statement on 25 July 2022 announcing that Mr Cyril Ramaphosa had appointed Justice Maya in accordance with s 174(3) of the Constitution. Ms Lenyai repeated President Ramaphosa’s words where he stated that: ‘Justice Maya will contribute to the ongoing transformation process of the judiciary. Her ascendency to the apex court will serve as a beacon of hope for scores of young women and make them believe that South Africa is a country of possibilities, regardless of gender, social or economic circumstances’.

The statement added that the LSSA is of the view that Justice Maya’s appointment will ensure that the rule of law is protected and enhanced. The LSSA thanked Justice Maya for her willingness to serve our country.

In a statement following Justice Maya’s appointment as the first permanent female Deputy Chief Justice, the Black Lawyers Association (BLA) said it believes that Justice Maya’s leadership style will eradicate nascent perceptions of a judiciary capture.

The BLA said that more work must be done to ensure a total transformation of the judiciary and the legal system. The BLA added that a holistic transformation process entails a change not only of personnel, but also of values and ethos. The BLA further said that if Justice Maya’s record as the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal is anything to go by, the organisation has no doubt that Justice Maya will exceed all expectations in steering the judiciary into higher trajectory.

The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) also welcomed the appointment of Justice Maya. In a statement by NADEL, the organisation expressed its warm congratulations to Justice Maya and noted the confidence shown by President Ramaphosa in Justice Maya’s ability to play such a crucial role in leading the judiciary. The President of NADEL, Mvuzo Notyesi said: ‘NADEL is particularly encouraged by the appointment because Deputy Chief Justice Maya is a woman of formidable strengths in the legal profession and who has demonstrated her ability to apply the law and lead’.

The South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA) views the appointment of Justice Maya as a significant step towards the gender transformation of the judiciary. In its statement, SAWLA said that Justice Maya is a renowned jurist, and her appointment is a proud moment for the organisation. SAWLA added that, although the affirmation of women as leaders in the judiciary is overdue, the organisation believes Justice Maya’s appointment is poised to open ‘closed doors’ in the echelons of the judiciary’s leadership.

SAWLA pointed out that historically, the legal profession and, in particular, the leadership of the High Courts has been male dominated. The organisation called for measures to expand the pool from which to draw women judges and leaders. President of SAWLA, Nomaswazi Shabangu-Mndawe said Justice Maya’s appointment will inspire aspirant and young female legal practitioners to achieve greater heights.

Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, congratulated Justice Maya on her appointment. In a statement released by the Office of the Chief Justice, Justice Zondo pointed out that, Justice Maya’s appointment signals a significant milestone in the history of SA and of the Judiciary in this country as Justice Maya is the first judge who is a woman to be appointed as Deputy Chief Justice of our country. Justice Zondo added that he looks forward to working with Justice Maya in her new role as Deputy Chief Justice.

The Judicial Service Commission also welcomed and congratulated Justice Maya on her appointment as the Deputy Chief Justice. Justice Maya will start her duties as the Chief Justice of SA on 1 September 2022.

In 2017, she was appointed as the first female Judge President of the Supreme Court of Appeal of SA.

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