n South African Journal on Human Rights - Fifteen years on : central issues relating to the transformation of the South African judiciary

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-7203



At its 52nd National Conference held in Polokwane from 16-20 December 2007, the African National Congress adopted a strongly-worded resolution calling for the transformation of the judiciary to be expedited. The judiciary has also recently attracted controversy due to the ongoing legal travails of ANC President, Jacob Zuma, and allegations regarding improper conduct on the part of Hlophe JP. This is therefore an opportune juncture to step back and consider the transformation of the judiciary over the past fifteen years of South Africa's constitutional democracy. The article commences with a brief discussion of the role of the judiciary under apartheid. In light of this, the following issues are discussed as components of judicial transformation: the process whereby judges are appointed; the need to change the attitudes of the judiciary; the need to foster greater judicial accountability; and the need for a more efficient judiciary. The conclusion reached is that post-apartheid South Africa has generally made impressive strides towards transforming its judiciary while respecting judicial independence and the separation of powers. However, recent legislative activity, resolutions and statements of the ANC and its alliance partners have not always heeded this approach. Judicial transformation must continue to be pursued but in a manner that is not counter-productive to the constitutional project as a whole.

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