Retired former ConCourt Justice Yvonne Mokgoro passes on

Retired former Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro has died, said Jo Mboweni, a family friend. 

Speaking to Sunday World, Mboweni said Mokgoro died on Thursday afternoon around 5pm at a Johannesburg hospital. He said Mokgoro was involved in a car accident about nine months ago and never recovered.

“She was hospitalised for some time after having been involved in a terrible car accident, but [eventually] could not make it. We owe our condolences to the Prof [Job Mokgoro], the kids, the grandchildren, relatives and friends and MHSRIP (May Her Soul Rest In Peace),” said Mboweni.

Horrific accident in Northern Cape

Last year, Mokgoro was involved in a serious car accident in the Northern Cape.

Mboweni said Mokgoro was later discharged from a private hospital in Kimberley and flown to a Johannesburg hospital on emergency. It was at this hospital where she met her untimely death today.

Mokgoro was married to former North West premier Professor Job Mokgoro.

Mokgoro served on the Constitutional Court from its democratic inception in 1994 until her retirement in 2009. She was an academic of note and one of the first black members of the judiciary in the country’s first democratic government.

Order of the Baobab in Bronze

In December 2015 Justice Yvonne Mokgoro was awarded The Order of the Baobab in Bronze by the then President Jacob Zuma. The award was for Her excellent contribution in the field of law and administration of justice in a democratic South Africa. 

The Order of the Baobab is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business and the economy. Also in science, medicine, and for technological innovation; and community service. The Supreme Counsellor of the Baobab in Gold is awarded for exceptional service.

According to information on the Constitutional Court website, Mokgoro was born in Galeshewe township near Kimberley. She matriculated at the local St Boniface High School in 1970.

Mokgoro studied mostly part-time. She obtained the Bachelor of Law degree at the University of Bophuthatswana, now North-West University in 1982. Two years later she obtained her LLB. She completed Master of Laws (LLM) in 1987.

Mokgoro also studied at the University of Pennsylvania in the US, where she was awarded a second LLM degree in 1990.

Impressive legal career

She started her work experience as a nursing assistant and later as a retail sales person. This was before her appointment as a clerk in the Department of Justice of the erstwhile Bophuthatswana government. After completion of the LLB she was appointed maintenance officer and public prosecutor in the then Mmabatho magistrate’s court.

In 1984, she was appointed lecturer in law in the Department of Jurisprudence, at the University of Bophuthatswana. Here she rose through the ranks to Associate Professor and served until 1991.

From 1992 to 1993 she served as Associate Professor at the University of the Western Cape. From there she moved to the Centre for Constitutional Analysis at the Human Science Research Council. Here she served as Specialist Researcher (Human Rights). She also lectured part time at the University of Pretoria. This until her appointment to the Constitutional Court in October 1994.

Throughout her legal career she has taught a number of courses. These include Constitutional Law, Human Rights Law Jurisprudence and History of Law. Also Comparative Law, Criminal Law, Private Law and Customary Law at a number of universities. These were in South Africa, the UK, the US and Netherlands.

She has written and presented papers and participated in a myriad of national and international conferences. Also seminars and workshops in South Africa and internationally. These were mainly in sociological jurisprudence and particularly on human rights. Also on customary law, focusing on the impact of law on society generally. And on women and children specifically.

She was married to Professor Job Mokgoro, and they had five children.

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