By MICHELLE SOLOMON
MOUNT Frere-born advocate Mbuyiseli Russell Madlanga was yesterday sworn in as a Constitutional Court judge.
The latest addition to the Concourt bench brings a host of notable achievements.
Mdlanga was born in Njijini village in 1962, and despite his apartheid-era education managed to come top of his class throughout his tertiary education.
Schooled in Matatiele, Madlanga finished his undergraduate law degree at then University of the Transkei, and was awarded the Juta prize for best law student in 1981. He completed his LLB at Rhodes University and read for his Masters in law at the American University of Notre Dame, where he graduated cum laude.
Former colleague and Judge President of the Eastern Cape High Court Cecil Somyalo, who retired from the bench in 2010, sang Mdlanga’s praises yesterday, saying he had met Mdlanga as a young advocate, and knew from the start he was “very bright”.
“[Mdlanga] began to excel at a very young age, and we worked very closely together over the years,” he said.
Some critics were concerned that Mdlanga might be a more conservative element on the Constitutional Court bench, but Somyalo dismissed this perception. He said while it was true that Mdlanga had represented the state on many cases – and this may explain perceptions of conservatism – Somyalo said he had found Mdlanga was “always sober and independent” in his rulings.
“We still phone each other from time to time, and he’s an excellent candidate for the Constitutional Court bench,” Somayalo said.
Up to last week Mdlanga was chief evidence leader at the Farlam inquiry into the killing of 34 miners at the Rustenburg-based Lonmin mine in Marikana in August last year.
Commission chairman and retired judge Ian Farlam wished Mdlanga well in his new position. “We are grateful to him for the great contribution he has made to the commission. We not only wish him well, but … we know the whole country will benefit from his contribution … at the Constitutional Court,” Farlam said.
Sworn in by Constitutional Court Chief Justice Moegoeng Moegoeng, Judge Mdlanga is expected to take up his post officially tomorrow.
Originally published in the Daily Dispatch.