President mourns passing of retired ConCourt Justice Yvonne Mokgoro 

Friday, May 10, 2024

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed sadness at the passing of retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, who was also an esteemed member of the Order of the Baobab.

Mokgoro, 73, passed away on Thursday, 9 May 2024, following an extended illness after a car accident.

“On behalf of government, President Ramaphosa offers his deep condolences to Prof Job Mokgoro and the late Justice’s immediate and extended family, as well as her many associates in the legal fraternity in South Africa and abroad,” a statement from the Presidency read. 

Mokgoro was a judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from its inception in 1994 until the end of her 15-year term in 2009.

She was South Africa’s first black woman judge to sit on the Constitutional Court’s bench. 

The Justice obtained a Bachelor of Jurisprudence (B Juris) degree at the then University of Bophuthatswana (now North West University) in 1982, a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) two years later, and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree in 1987.

She also studied at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, where she obtained a second LLM degree in 1990.

Throughout her legal career, she taught several courses, including Constitutional Law, Human Rights Law Jurisprudence, History of Law, Comparative Law, Criminal Law, Private Law and Customary Law at a number of universities in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Netherlands.

“She wrote and presented papers, and participated in a myriad of national and international conferences, seminars and workshops in South Africa and internationally, mainly in sociological jurisprudence and particularly on human rights, and customary law, focusing on the impact of law on society generally, and women and children specifically,” said the Presidency.

In 2015, she was inducted as a member of the Order of the Baobab in Bronze for her excellent contribution to the field of law and administration of justice in a democratic South Africa.

President Ramaphosa said: “Justice Mokgoro’s passing deprives our nation of a formidable intellect and impeccable jurist, who served our democracy at its very inception and through the years that followed.

“As we recall the inauguration of our founding President Nelson Mandela 30 years ago on this day, 10 May, we count his appointment of Justice Mokgoro to the Constitutional Court as one of the critical, transformative decisions he exercised in those early days of our liberation.”

As a black woman judge, President Ramaphosa said Mokgoro was a pioneering embodiment of and contributor to the transformation of the country and the legal system and new jurisprudence that enabled transformation.

“Justice Mokgoro distinguished herself as an academic, a justice of our apex court, Chairperson of the South African Law Commission and as a strategic advisor to a diversity of boards in different sectors.

“Her insightful and principled counsel lives on in the thousands of legal careers she shaped in the course of her academic endeavours.

“She has left us under very tragic circumstances, and we, therefore, join the family in their sadness and their prayers that this beloved mother, patriot, leader and citizen of the globe will rest in peace,” the President said. –