Justice Mandisa Maya was appointed into the vacant seat of the president of the Supreme Court of Appeal by President Jacob Zuma.
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) was established in 1910 and has never had a woman as its president. Justice Maya becomes the first woman to be appointed to that position.
“Her appointment to the position elevates her to the third highest position in the Judicial Branch, after the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic. We wish to congratulate her for being the first woman to occupy such a high position in the Judiciary and wish Justice Maya all the best in her new important responsibility of advancing our constitutional democracy,” said President Zuma.
Fully known as Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya, she was born in 1964. Justice Maya received her Bachelor of Law in 1988 from the University of Natal, Durban. She was an attorney’s clerk between 1987-1988, before becoming a court interpreter and prosecutor at the Magistrate’s Court. She lectured at the University of Transkei between 1993-1995 and was made an Acting Judge at the Cape High Court and Mthatha High Court in 1999, and became a full judge in 2000.
In May 2006 Justice Maya became a member of the Bench in the Supreme Court of Appeal and also a member of the South African Law Reform Commission in 2013.
The Supreme Court of Appeal, which is made up of 25 members excluding Acting Judges is composed of seven women and 18 men. Justice Maya was the deputy president of the court and the first female to hold that position.
Justice Maya’s legal exploits have gone beyond the Republic of South Africa. In 2008 she was an Acting Judge at the Supreme Court in Namibia and also an Acting Judge at the Court of Appeal in Lesotho in 2015.
Justice Maya lists her 179 judgements in the application to become the president of the SCA. Most of her judgements are reported in the South African Law Reports, South African Criminal Law Reports, Butterworths Constitutional Law Reports and the Industrial Law Journal.
Justice Maya who got her LLM in Constitutional Law from Duke University in the United States has acted as a judge at the Labour Court, the SCA, and the Constitutional Court before her appointment as an SCA judge in 2006.
Justice Maya replaces Judge Lex Mpati who retired in 2016. According to Eye Witness News, the appointment of Justice Maya to the President of the SCA elevates her to the third highest position in the judiciary after the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa.
Justice Maya has been seen as a symbol of gender transformation, and is an important role player in the promotion of cultural and gender rights.
She has only had two of her judgements overturned on appeal and eight that were taken to appeal unsuccessfully. She is fluent in English, isiXhosa, isiZulu and Afrikaans.
President Zuma consulted with the Judicial Service Commission before making the appointment.
This is Africa wishes her all the best in her judiciary duties.