She was a prominent human rights attorney in the 1990s. She gave evidence before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the role of the legal system in contributing to the violations of human rights in South Africa under apartheid. In 1999 she was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to be Chairperson of the Road Accident Fund Commission.
In September 2001 in the case named Satchwell v President of the Republic of South Africa, Satchwell, an open lesbian, won the right for her partner to enjoy the same benefits as those previously reserved for spouses of married heterosexual judges. This right was confirmed by the Constitutional Court in 2002. This decision is seen as one of five key decisions that set the legal status of same-sex couples in South Africa before the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
- Satchwell, Kathleen (2005), "Students at Rhodes under Apartheid", African Sociological Review 9 (1): 167[dead link].
- "K Satchwell", Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 1996-07-26, retrieved 2007-08-30.
- "Proclamation: Appointment of Members to the Road Accident Fund Commission", Government Gazette 407 (65), 1999-05-21.
- "Have You Heard", The Times, 2007-02-04, retrieved 2007-08-30.
- http://www.suntimes.co.za/business/legal/2001/09/30/carmel05.asp (broken link)
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