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Trailblazing Maya one step closer to the ConCourt

It may just be a rubber stamp, but the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has endorsed Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) president Mandisa Maya for the position of deputy chief justice. This brings her one step closer to being the first woman to hold that esteemed position permanently. 

We, along with many others, thought Maya would have been appointed as our Chief Justice, but when Ramaphosa finally made his decision on the top post in March, he stuck with the safe bet of Zondo, who became a household name during the state capture commission. But by nominating Maya as deputy, he has effectively lined her up to become Chief Justice in two years when Zondo retires from the ConCourt – his term on the top bench ends in 2024. The JSC interview and endorsement means Ramaphosa can go ahead and appoint Maya as deputy.

Some of Maya’s key judgments include:

  • AfriForum v Chairperson of the Council of the University of South Africa which found that Unisa’s new language policy, which had removed Afrikaans as a language of learning and tuition, was unconstitutional and unlawful. Maya made history by writing the first recorded judgment of a superior court in South Africa in isiXhosa. Journalist Marianne Thamm called Maya’s “decision – to speak of Afrikaans in isiXhosa and to defend its right to be spoken… a uniquely South African moment”.

Maya, 58, has long blazed a trail for women in the judiciary – she was the first woman president of the SCA, the second-highest court in the land. But, as she noted in her interview this week, she is the only female head of a court in the country. 

“This is an issue I feel passionate about,” she said. “Gender equality is one of the key 2030 sustainable development goals… no country will thrive if a majority of its citizens are downtrodden. That is a scientific fact.”

Hear hear. Sisters aren’t just doing it for themselves anymore, they’re doing it for the Constitution. 😊