MAGISTRATES APPOINTED AS JUDGES AFTER THE OCTOBER 2021 JSC INTERVIEW ROUND
Following the October 2021 interviews and the recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the President has appointed 25 judges to South Africa’s superior courts. Of the 25, five are magistrates who are rising through the ranks, and one a member of the Magistrates Commission. We take a closer look at these current and former magistrates – and their advancement to the next phase of their careers.
EASTERN CAPE HIGH COURT
Prior to her appointment as a judge of the Eastern Cape High Court, Lindiwe Rusi was a magistrate in Mount Ayliff, Eastern Cape since July 2010. After holding a brief stint as an acting magistrate since 2009. In 2013 she was briefly transferred to the Pietermaritzburg Magistrates Court where she was exposed to criminal law, family law and civil disputes. It is this latter experience that prepared her for an acting stint as a Regional Magistrate between 2018 and 2019, where she dealt with complex criminal cases like rape, murder, and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
She again acted as a judge from April 2021, where she criss-crossed the province between the five cities where the Eastern Cape High Court sits, to hear some of the most serious criminal law cases, complex civil cases, and even constitutional disputes.
Prior to her elevation to judicial office, Rusi was an attorney at Legal Aid South Africa.
Rusi holds a B. Iuris and LLB degrees from the then University of the Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University), where she also spent seven years as a legal academic lecturing the law of evidence, criminal procedure, and commercial law. Rusi also holds an LLM from Unisa.
Acting President David Mabuza appointed Rusi as a permanent judge from 1 January 2022.
GAUTENG HIGH COURT
Dario Dosio began his legal career in 1991 as prosecutor in the district criminal courts, later rising to be control prosecutor in 1994. He started as a district magistrate in 1996, before being promoted to regional magistrate in Soweto, first in the criminal courts and later in the civil court from 2012. For the 9 years from 2012 he held several stints as an acting judge in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Dosio is a well-known figure in the magistracy, particularly in Gauteng. He served as an executive member of the Judicial Officers Association of South Africa (JOASA), before becoming National President (2008 – 2010). He was also a member of the Association of Regional Magistrates of SA (ARMSA) and is actively involved in the affairs of the SA chapter of the International Association of Women Judges, where he runs a school mentorship programme in Soweto.
Dosio holds a BA and LLB degrees, and a Higher Diploma in Tax Law, all from Wits University.
Acting President David Mabuza appointed Dosio as a judge from 1 January 2022.
MPUMALANGA HIGH COURT
Mpopelele Bruce Langa
Western Cape Regional Court President Mpopelele Bruce Langa began his career in 1978 as an administrative clerk with the Department of Justice while completing his legal studies. After graduating in 1982, he became a public prosecutor. He first joined the magistracy in 1983 as an assistant magistrate – and from there he rose through the ranks to become an additional magistrate (1985), regional magistrate (2004), and ultimately the regional court president of the Western Cape (2013).
Langa was an active member of the magistrate’s profession, first becoming a member of the Magistrates Association of SA in 1994, Limpopo chairperson of the Judicial Officers Association of SA (JOASA) in 2002, and finally a member of the Association of Regional Magistrates of SA (ARMSA) until his elevation as a judge.
Since 2017, Langa has held several stints as an acting judge in Gauteng, Western Cape and Mpumalanga. He holds a Diploma Iuris from the University of the North (now University of Limpopo) and LLB and LLM degrees from the University of South Africa.
Acting President David Mabuza appointed Langa as a judge from 1 January 2022.
WESTERN CAPE HIGH COURT
By the time Dr James Lekhuleni was permanently appointed as a judge from January 2022, he had spent time in almost every corner of the legal profession. From 1994 until 2021 he was a candidate attorney, a legal costs consultant, a public prosecutor, a corporate legal advisor, an attorney in private practice, a military judge, an additional magistrate, an acting regional magistrate, a regional magistrate, and the acting president of the Western Cape Regional Court. Phew!
Lekhuleni’s string of legal jobs is only matched by his string of qualifications. In length, he holds B.Proc and LLB degrees from the University of the North (now the University of Limpopo), two LLM qualifications from the University of Pretoria, and a doctoral LLD degree from the University of the Western Cape, where he is also currently enrolled for his third LLM degree, this time in International Criminal Law.
Lekhuleni is a prolific author and a regular contributor to several publications in the legal profession, including De Rebus, attorneys’ journal, and the SAJEI newsletter aimed at magistrates. He is also active in the organised legal profession as a member of the SA Society of Labour Lawyers (SASLAW), the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), and the Association of Regional Magistrates of SA (ARMSA).
Acting President David Mabuza appointed Lekhuleni as a judge from January 2022.
Mr Daniel Mafeleu Thulare is no stranger to JSC interviews. He had two explosive exchanges with Chief Justice Mogoeng at his October 2019 and April 2021 interview sessions. Mr Thulare was elevated to the post of Chief Magistrate of Cape Town in 2016. He started his legal career as a court interpreter, later becoming a candidate attorney, and district magistrate in 1999. He is the immediate past president of the Judicial Officers Association of SA (Joasa), and a member of the Magistrates Commission.
Thulare completed his term as the president of the Judicial Officers Association of South Africa (Joasa) in July 2019 and caused a stir during his final address when he was critical of the concentration of decision-making power and the under-representation of the magistracy in the Heads of Court structure.
Thulare felt the Heads of Court structure was “paternalistic” towards the magistracy. Instead, Thulare called for a symposium involving “judicial officers of all ranks” so that they could define what was meant by a ‘single judiciary’ and to identify the consequences that would follow from that definition.”
Thulare was also critical of the current structure which sees chief magistrates and regional court presidents side-lined and absent from heads of courts meetings convened by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. These comments did not sit easy with Mogoeng during Thulare’s unsuccessful 2019 interview for a position on the Western Cape High Court Bench when it dominated.
It was Thulare’s musical support of SCA President Maya for Chief Justice that caused his second clash with Chief Justice Mogoeng at the April 2021 interviews. CJ Mogoeng seemed annoyed that Thulare had circulated a voice recording where he was heard singing “Phakama Maya, ixesha lifikile!” (‘Rise Maya, the time has come’).
On Thulare’s third return to the JSC, in October 2021, the mood was less tense and combative. This was probably because the chairperson was Acting Chief Justice Zondo. It was at this interview where Thulare was finally successful.
Thulare holds a B Juris (1996), an LLB (1998), and an LLM (2002) from the University of South Africa. He has held several acting stints as judge in the Western Cape High Court since 2014.
Acting President David Mabuza appointed Thulare as a judge from January 2022.
NON-MAGISTRATES WHO PLAY SOME ROLE IN THE MAGISTRACY
Advocate Cassim Ismail Moosa is the chairperson of the Ethics Committee and also spokesperson of the Magistrates Commission. He was first appointed to the Magistrates Commission in 2013, and held memberships in Legislative and Ethics committees. Mr Moosa has been an advocate in private practice for the last 28 years – and an active member of the National Bar Council of SA, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, a lecturer with the Law Society, and part of the steering committee drafting the Legal Sector Code for Broad Based Economic Empowerment. Since 2015, he has held several stints as an acting judge in Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
Moosa has come twice before the JSC seeking permanent appointment: in October 2019 and again in April 2021. He was third-time lucky when he was finally successful in the October 2021 interview round.
Acting President David Mabuza appointed Moosa as a judge from January 2022.