Former NYU School of Law visiting scholar Justice Sandile Ngcobo has accepted President Jacob Zuma’s nomination to become Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. If he is confirmed, Justice Ngcobo would become the second Chief Justice in the court’s history.
Justice Mgcobo holds bachelor of laws degrees from University of Zululand and University of Natal, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. A Human Rights Fellow at Harvard Law School, he earned an LL.M there in 1986. He was a part-time lecturer at University of Natal and a visiting professor at Columbia Law School (2006-08) and Harvard Law School (2008-09). In 2001, he came to NYU School of Law, where he spent the Fall semester as a visiting scholar.
After his graduation from University of Natal in 1975, Ngcobo’s law career was delayed when he spent a year in detention following the June 1976 Soweto uprisings. Upon his release he began a year-long clerkship at the Magistrates Office in Maphumulo, South Africa in 1977. He was admitted as an attorney in 1981, and earned his first judicial appointed in 1993. In 1999, after serving as a judge on the KwaZulu-Natal Industrial Court (1993), the Western Cape High Court (1996-99), Labour Appeal Court (1997-99), and the Amnesty Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (1998-99), Ngcobo was appointed by then-President Nelson Mandela to the Constitutional Court, where he has served as a justice for 10 years. The Constitutional Court was born in 1994, the year that South Africa introduced its first democratic constitution, and President Mandela selected current Chief Justice Pius Langa to run the court.With Langa set to retire in October, both President Zuma and the African National Congress (ANC) support Ngcobo’s promotion, citing his strong human rights record, and his extensive experience.
"His career as a lawyer was spent defending the most vulnerable people in our country," the ANC said in a statement last month. "His long and distinguished service as a justice of the Supreme Court brings with it the experience and the fortitude our country needs to assure that the judiciary remains an independent arbiter for every citizen."