Supreme Court of Appeal President Mandisa Maya is set to be interviewed for the position of Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court on Monday. The position became vacant when Justice Raymond Zondo took the helm at the apex court earlier this year.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) nominated Maya for the Chief Justice position after its week-long interview process.
Mandisa Maya is a pioneer in the legal field and a woman of firsts. She was one of the first women judges in the Eastern Cape High Court. The first black woman in the Supreme Court of Appeal, the first woman Deputy President of that court, and later its President.
Maya is now set to be the first woman Deputy Chief Justice of the country. While other women have acted in the position as recently as Justice Sisi Khampepe last year -Maya would be the first to officially occupy this seat.
Born in rural Eastern Cape, the trailblazer worked as a court interpreter and prosecutor before joining the Women’s Legal Defence in Washington DC. As the country transitioned to democracy Maya worked as an investigator for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). She practiced as an advocate before becoming a high court judge.
Maya then moved through the Appellate divisions and acted at the ConCourt as well.
She is a firm advocate for more women on the bench as expressed in an interview back in 2017.
“How do we get more women in the system? I think we would have been able to identify where the real problem lies by now. We have all identified that there is no shortage of young women law graduates who leave our institutions every year.”
“There is no shortage of young women lawyers who join the profession to do articles of clerkship, to serve pupilage, but something happens once they get into the professions to practice and they fall through the cracks, and that is where we should be looking”, says Maya.
At the helm of the SCA, she has turned the appellate court into one of the most efficient in the country.
“Maya has been doing a good job at the SCA, some may say it’s only four years and that the court could benefit from her leadership stability”, says Dan Matora from the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.
During her interview for the Chief Justice position earlier this year, Maya urged the commission to consider her skills rather than her gender.
In April, President Cyril Ramapahosa nominated Maya for the position of Deputy Chief Justice, which she subsequently accepted, and is now set to be interviewed once again by the JSC.
SCA President Mandisa Maya during her Chief Justice interviews earlier this year: