Judiciary of South Africa

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Schematic of the South African court system

The judiciary of South Africa is the body of judges and magistrates who sit in the courts of South Africa. The judiciary is an independent branch of the government, subject only to the Constitution of South Africa and the laws of the country.[1] The Judiciary interprets the law of South Africa, using as the basis of its interpretation the laws enacted by the South African Parliament as well as explanatory statements made in the legislature during the enactment.

Chapter 8 of the Constitution of South Africa defines the structure of the South African judicial system.[2] This chapter also guarantees the independence of the courts and requires other organs of the state to assist and protect the courts in order to ensure their "independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness". In addition, Chapter 2 of the Constitution guarantees every person the right to have a dispute or trial heard by a fair, impartial and independent court.

The judiciary of South Africa consists of:

Permanent judges in the higher courts are appointed by the President of South Africa, in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission as well as the leaders of the political parties represented in South African National Assembly. The appointment of magistrates fall under the separate Magistrates' Commission

There is also a single national prosecuting authority that is responsible for the institution of criminal proceedings on behalf of the state.

Judicial Service Commission[edit]

The South African Judicial Service Commission plays an important role in the appointment of judges and also advises the country's national government on any matters relating to the judiciary and the administration of justice. It is a body established in the Constitution of South Africa "to advise the national government on any matter relating to the judiciary or the administration of justice"[2] and for which separate legislation has been enacted.

The Judicial Service Commission's membership include:[2]

When considering matters related to a specific High Court, the following additional members are included:

  • The Judge President of that court, or his designated alternate
  • The Premier of the province concerned, or his/her designated alternate

When the matter before the Commission does not concern the appointment of a judge, the members from the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces are excluded.

National Prosecuting Authority[edit]

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is responsible for the institution of criminal proceedings on behalf of the state. The NPA is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions, who is appointed by the President. The Constitution of South Africa states that legislation enacted by the South African Parliament must ensure that the NPA performs its functions without fear, favor or prejudice.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "South Africa's judiciary". SouthAfrica.info. Brand South Africa. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, No. 108 of 1996". Government of the Republic of South Africa. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 

External links[edit]