Judge Dikgang Moseneke


Editorial Panelist

DIKGANG MOSENEKE retired in May 2016 as the Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa and a Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Before his appointment to the Constitutional Court, he was a judge of the High Court in Pretoria.

Moseneke was born in December 1947 in Pretoria where he completed primary and secondary schooling. During March 1963, at the age of 15 years and whilst in Standard 8 (now Grade 10) he was arrested, detained and convicted for participating in political activity opposed to the apartheid regime as a member of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. He was sentenced in the Supreme Court, Pretoria to ten years’ imprisonment, all of which he served on Robben Island. Whilst on Robben Island, Moseneke studied privately and matriculated with a university entrance pass. He enrolled with the University of South Africa (Unisa) where he obtained a BA degree majoring in English and Political Science. Subsequently, Moseneke obtained a BIuris degree and thereafter completed an LLB degree. All three degrees were conferred by the University of South Africa.

Shortly after leaving Robben Island, Moseneke’s professional career started in 1976 as an attorney’s clerk at the Pretoria law firm Dyasons and subsequently at the law firm Klagsbrun Incorporated. In 1978 Moseneke was admitted as an attorney and thereafter practised in partnership at the law firm Maluleke, Seriti and Moseneke. After practising for five years as an attorney, in 1983 Moseneke was called to the Bar where he practised as an advocate at the Johannesburg and Pretoria Bars. During his practice at the Pretoria Bar he was elected to serve on the Bar Council. Ten years later, in 1993, he was elevated to the status of Senior Counsel (SC).

With the advent of constitutional negotiations in 1993, Moseneke was appointed to serve on the technical committee that drafted the 1994 Interim Constitution for a democratic South Africa. In 1994 Moseneke was appointed deputy chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission which conducted the first democratic elections in South Africa. In September 1994, Moseneke was appointed to the High Court (Transvaal Provincial Division, as it was then known) as an acting judge after which he returned to his practice as a Silk at the Bar.

Moseneke was elevated to the bench of the High Court Pretoria in 2001 and thereafter was appointed to the Constitutional Court in 2002, and as the Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic from 2005 until 2016. He has often served as Acting Chief Justice of the Republic.

Moseneke has played an active role in the affairs of the organised profession. He was a founder member of the Black Lawyers Association (BLA) and its first national secretary. He was also a founding member of the editorial board of the African Law Review published by the BLA to give a voice to disenfranchised legal practitioners. Together with other progressive legal practitioners, he was a founding member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers of South Africa (NADEL) and its first national treasurer.

He has served in several community-based organisations and non-governmental organisations whose activities were directed at ameliorating the harsh impact of apartheid inequality. This service included his role as chairperson of Project Literacy for over ten years, as trustee of the Sowetan Nation Building, and as Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund for 15 years.

Moseneke has been keenly associated with tertiary education. In 1986 he was appointed visiting Law Professor at Columbia Law School, University of Columbia, New York. He served a term of five years as the first Chancellor of Pretoria Technicon which is now known as the Tshwane University of Technology. He served as the Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg for 12 years. During the autumn of 2011, he was a Distinguished Scholar and Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, USA. In 2012 Moseneke was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Georgetown School of Law, Washington. In 2013 he was invited as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Zurich School of Law, Switzerland. After retirement he lectured at the University of Oxford and at New York University Law School, and during 2020 at the School of Law at Duke University, USA.

On the home front, Moseneke has been appointed Extraordinary Law Professor at the Universities of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape, Honorary Professor of Bioethics at the School of Health Sciences, and Honorary Professor at the School of Law of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Moseneke holds several honorary doctorates and is a recipient of numerous awards of honour, performance and excellence at home and abroad.

During the past 40 years, Moseneke has read numerous papers at law conferences, both at home and abroad, and is widely published in academic law journals. He has recently published his personal memoir: My Own Liberator,and judicial memoir: All Arise.

Dikgang Moseneke is married to Kabonina, and they have a daughter, two sons and six grandchildren.