JSC gives Mandisa Maya nod to become first female chief justice

The judicial service commission (JSC) has resolved that Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya is suitable for the position of chief justice after her interview on Tuesday.

Maya was the sole candidate interviewed to replace incumbent Chief Justice Raymond Zondo who goes on retirement in August when his 12-year term on the Constitutional Court comes to an end. The JSC’s thumbs up for Maya would see her become the country’s first female chief justice since the dawn of democracy 30 years ago.

The JSC will also advise President Cyril Ramaphosa that the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judge and chairperson of the Electoral Court, Justice Dumisani Zondi, was the right candidate to fill the position of Deputy President of the SCA. 


“Following the interview for Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa, the Judicial Service Commission has resolved to advise the President, that Deputy Chief Justice M M L Maya is suitable for appointment to the position of Chief Justice. Following the interview for Deputy President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the Judicial Service Commission has resolved to advise the President, that Justice D Zondi is suitable for appointment to the position of Deputy President of the SCA,” said the JSC.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo chaired interviews

The interviews for the Chief Justice and SCA Deputy President positions took place on Tuesday. They were conducted at the Capital on the Park Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg.

The interviews were chaired by Zondo.

Both Maya and Zondi were the sole candidates nominated for their respective positions by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Maya was born in the Eastern Cape in 1964. She was formerly the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal from 2017 to 2022. Maya joined the bench in May 2000 as a judge of the Transkei of the High Court of South Africa. She was elevated to the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2006.

Long career in the country’s legal and justice sector

Maya began her legal career in the Transkei, working as a prosecutor and state law adviser. She was eventually admitted as an advocate in 1994. President Thabo Mbeki appointed her to the Mthatha High Court in May 2000. In June 2006 he appointed her to the Supreme Court of Appeal.


In the appellate court, she was elevated to the deputy presidency in September 2015. She moved to the presidency, succeeding Lex Mpati in both positions in May 2017. Maya was the first black woman to serve in the Supreme Court of Appeal. Maya was also the court’s first woman deputy president and first woman president.

She was nominated unsuccessfully for elevation to the Constitutional Court in 2009 and 2012.

President Cyril Ramaphosa controversially declined to confirm her nomination as Chief Justice of South Africa in March 2022. In September 2022, however, Ramaphosa appointed her as the first woman Deputy Chief Justice.

She deputised Raymond Zondo  in that capacity. The new Chief Justice was the president of the South African chapter of the International Association of Women Judges from 2018 to 2023. And she was appointed as  Chancellor of the University of Mpumalanga on July 1,  2021.

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