The legal fraternity has lost one of its sharpest minds in former Deputy Judge President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Khayelihle “KK” Mthiyane. The Deputy Judge President died on Thursday in hospital.
The retired judge was born in rural Ndwedwe north of Durban in 1944. He chaired the Mthiyane Commission, which investigated corruption and racism in a number of hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.
“This is a tragedy in many cases because on Sunday we were bidding farewell to his beloved wife, Sthandiwe. She had died before him and he could not attend the funeral because he was in hospital and we all had hoped that he was going to recover. So, on behalf of the legal fraternity we would like to extend deep-felt condolences to the family, his children and grandchildren,” says advocate Marumo Moerane.
Moerane has described Judge Mthiyane’s death as a huge blow to the legal fraternity.
Judge Mthiyane was admitted as a lawyer in 1975 and soon established his own legal practice.
Moerane says he rose from humble beginnings to become the fourth highest judge in South Africa.
“Born in Ndwedwe and went on to live in uMlazi with his mother and a stepfather. He became an attorney, that’s how he started his legal career around 1975. He started his own firm KK Mthiyane and Company. Remember at the time, the political situation in the country, he dealt with mainly political cases but also criminal and civil cases. His clients were from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Years later, Mthiyane left his legal practice to become a judge. In 1995, he chaired two commissions that were investigating racism at the University of Zululand and the then University of Durban-Westville.
In 2001, Judge Mthiyane was appointed as a judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal. According to Moerane, the judge was a well-liked member of the bench.
“As a judge, he was very kind, courteous to everybody who appeared before him. He never raised his voice or tried to belittle a witness or even a practitioner. He was very well-liked because of his nature. Then he was elevated to the SCA in 2001, also there distinguished himself by attending to significant judgments. He also acted in the Constitutional Court,” adds Moerane.
Judge Mthiyane is survived by his children and grandchildren.