Free State-born judge appointed as President of the Supreme Court of Appeal

The newly appointed President for the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), Justice Mahube Molemela. PHOTO: Supplied

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Madam Justice Mahube Molemela to head the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) as of 1 June 2023.

It is understood that Mahube Molemela will become the second woman to be the President of the SCA.

In a media statement from Ramaphosa’s office confirming the news, it is explained that the position became vacant following the appointment of Molemela’s successor, Mandisa Maya, to the position of Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court last year.

“Justice Molemela’s appointment adds impetus to the continuing transformation of key institutions of our democracy, including the judiciary. Justice Molemela is an outstanding jurist who will play a critical role in entrenching justice for all South Africans,” Ramaphosa said.

Matriculated in Thaba Nchu

Molemela was born in Bloemfontein, Free State, and matriculated at the Albert Moroka High School in Thaba Nchu in 1981. She has since held positions such as Prosecutor at the Thaba Nchu Magistrate’s Court served her articles of clerkship at the firm E G Cooper & Sons and the firm Peete Jake Moloi Attorneys, lectured at the University of the Free State for two years, served as a council member of the Central University of Technology (CUT), and is a member of its Audit and Risk Committee.

Career spans 15 years on the bench

The statement also explains that Molemela was appointed following consultations with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and party leaders in the National Assembly. Molemela was the Free State Division of the High Court’s first female Judge President and her career spans some 15 years on the bench. “During her 15 years on the bench, she has served as a Judge President of the Free State Division of the High Court for three years before her elevation to the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2018. She has also served as a Judge of the Labour and Labour Appeal Court, Acting Judge of the Competition Appeal Court, and Acting Judge of the Constitutional Court for two terms in 2015. She holds a B. Proc degree (University of Fort Hare); LLB, LLM, and LLD (Honoris Causa) (all three from the University of Free State),” the Presidency said.

‘CUT proud to be associated with Justice Molemela’

The CUT congratulated Molemela on her appointment. “The University is proud to be associated with Justice Molemela and is privileged to have her as the university Chancellor. She continues to render critical support to the university and communities through the position she holds in society. In addition, her previous experience as a CUT council member gave her the added advantage of understanding the challenges of the university and its aspirations and commitment to Vision 2030.”

Appointment shows ANC’s commitment toward gender parity

The ruling ANC party in the province also welcomes the news. “Thanks to her strong work ethic, professionalism, and desire to contribute positively to the legal profession, she rose through the ranks. The ANC wishes to thank President Ramaphosa for having recognised the capacity and leadership qualities of Justice Molemela, and for affording her the responsibility to serve in this coveted position of responsibility. We have no doubt that Justice Molemela will serve with sheer dedication, selflessness, and determination, as she has done in all her previous responsibilities. Her appointment further shows the commitment of the ANC towards gender parity, and towards breaking all the barriers of patriarchy, and towards creating a non-sexist, non-racial, democratic and prosperous South Africa.”

The opposition party, DA also welcomes Molemela’s appointment. “We welcome the appointment of only the second woman to be appointed to the position. Judge Molemela has a strong background that qualifies her for this position. She held the position of Judge President of the Free State for eight years and has been on the SCA Bench for four years. Judge Molemela holds a variety of academic qualifications, her principal law degrees being obtained at the University of the Free State. The DA wishes her every success in her new position.”