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Yvonne Mokgoro, LLM’90

Former Justice, Constitutional Court of South Africa

Yvonne Mokgoro is a former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. She was appointed to the bench in 1994 by Nelson Mandela, and served as a judge from the Constitutional Court’s inception until the end of her 15-year term.

Mokgoro served as Chairperson of the South African Law Reform Commission from 1995 until the end of a third term in 2011. She served as a Judge in the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) from 2011 to 2013 where her work entailed the exercise of oversight over the administration of the OCJ and the implementation of the OCJ mandate. (The role of the OCJ entails the enhancement of the independence of the South African Judiciary as per Section 165 of the South African Constitution and supportive laws.)  She is also a former board member of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.

Mokgoro chairs the board of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and is a trustee of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation. She also serves on the expert panel that appoints members to the board of the Reserve Bank of South Africa.

Mokgoro began her career as a nursing assistant and later as a retail sales-person before her appointment as a clerk in the Department of Justice of the erstwhile Bophuthatswana. Following the completion of her LLB (which she achieved mostly through part-time study) she was appointed maintenance officer and public prosecutor in the then Mmabatho Magistrate’s Court.

Throughout her legal career she has taught a number of courses, including, Constitutional Law, Human Rights Law Jurisprudence, History of Law, Comparative Law, Criminal Law, Private Law and Customary Law. She has written 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, customary law, focusing on the impact of law on society generally, and on women and children specifically.

She has served extensively as a resource person for non-governmental and community-based organizations and other initiatives in South Africa and internationally.  Judge Mokgoro holds membership of the International Women’s Association (Washington DC) and the International Association of Women Judges, the International Federation of Women Lawyers and the South African Women Lawyers Association.