Pretoria – Madam Justice Mahube Betty Molemela has been appointed President of the Supreme Court of Appeal with effect from 1 June 2023.
“The President [Cyril Ramaphosa] has made this appointment in terms of Section 174(3) of the Constitution, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly,” the Presidency said on Friday.
Justice Molemela is the first woman to have held the position of Judge President of the Free State Division of the High Court.
She boasts an illustrious judicial career spanning over 15 years, having first been appointed as a Judge of the Free State Division of the High Court in 2008.
During her 15 years on the Bench, she served as a Judge President of the Free State Division of the High Court for a period of three years before her elevation to the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2018.
She has also served as a Judge of the Labour and Labour Appeal Court, Acting Judge of the Competition Appeal Court, and Acting Judge of the Constitutional Court for two terms in 2015.
She holds a B. Proc degree (University of Fort Hare); LLB, LLM and LLD (Honoris Causa) (all three from the University of Free State).
Section 174(3) of the Constitution provides that “The President as head of the national executive, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly, appoints the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice and, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission, appoints the President and Deputy President of the Supreme Court of Appeal.”
On 26 January 2023, President Ramaphosa nominated Madam Justice Molemela for the vacant position of President of the Supreme Court of Appeal and addressed a letter to the Judicial Service Commission, (JSC) initiating the consultation required in terms of Section 174(3) of the Constitution.
The President requested the JSC to indicate Its views on Justice Molemela’s suitability for appointment as President of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The Commission invited public comment on the candidacy of Justice Molemela and held a public interview to assess her suitability for the position on 17 April 2023.
Following the interview, the Chairperson of the JSC and Chief Justice submitted to the President the Commission’s views on the suitability of Justice Molemela to occupy the position of President of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The Chief Justice indicated that there had been no objections from the public or professional law bodies against Justice Molemela’s candidacy and that she had succeeded in her interview. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of the members of the JSC voted in support of Justice Molemela’s suitability.
President Ramaphosa expressed his appreciation to the incoming President of the Supreme Court of Appeal for her service to date in the judiciary and the legal profession and wished her well in her new role.
The President said: “Justice Molemela’s appointment adds impetus to the continuing transformation of key institutions of our democracy, including the judiciary.
“Justice Molemela is an outstanding jurist who will play a critical role in entrenching justice for all South Africans.”