- On this day, 23 years ago, South Africa's first non-white Chief Justice was appointed
- President Nelson Mandela skipped normal protocol to appoint Ismail Mahomed
- He passed on in 2000 after a battle with cancer
On this day in 1996, President Nelson Mandela confirmed the historic appointment of the first Supreme Court Judge of colour in South Africa. Ismail Mahomed was appointed directly by Mandela after the president skipped standard protocol.
Mahomed was born to Indian immigrant merchants in Pretoria. In 1953 he graduated with a BA from Wits and the following year received his Honours in political science. He finished his Bachelor of Laws in 1957.
Mahomed was refused admission to the Pretoria Bar Association because it was only reserved for white lawyers. He was, however, able to join the Johannesburg Bar Association. Apartheid laws barred him from being able to get an office of his own so he was forced to practice out of his colleagues' offices while they were away.
In 1979 he was appointed to the appeal court of Swaziland and in 1982 was made an Appeal Judge in Lesotho. He then later become president of the Appeals court. In 1991 he returned to the country and became the chair of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa and the country's first non-white judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa. He was made a judge of the Constitutional Court in 1995 before his 1996 Chief Justice appointment.
Mahomed passed on in 17 June 2000, shortly after leaving the bench after battling pancreatic cancer.
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