Late ConCourt judge Justice Yvonne Mokgoro hailed for her role in promoting social justice

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro being presented with the degree of of Doctor of Laws at the University of South Africa. Picture: Etienne Creux

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro being presented with the degree of of Doctor of Laws at the University of South Africa. Picture: Etienne Creux

Published May 18, 2024


Former Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro who died following a long struggle with the effects of a car accident over nine months ago was remembered by friends, colleagues and family members during a memorial service which took place on Friday at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund offices in Saxonwold.

Many described her as a leader with great integrity who used her personal and professional life to inspire other women and young people.

Former deputy president, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, remembered her as a sharp rock who helped shape the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the Nelson Mandela Rhodes Foundation and other institutions to be where they are today.

“She was a rock. She was sharp and used her sharpness to shape this organisation to where it is today. I am proud of her work and the young women she inspired along the way. She has played her role and played it well, even though we feel there was still more for her to do. For young women and children, she was someone they could look up to,” she said.

Justice Mokgoro’s eldest son, Ithateng Mokgoro, remembered his mother as a woman of strength whose strength was evident in every aspect of her life.

“If laughter, kindness and vulnerability was a strength and what if a smile and gentleness was a strength, nurturing, beauty and fun were a strength. All of these were qualities she possessed,” he said.

Ithateng also recalled the difficult and painful year the family spent with their matriarch following the accident last year.

“She suffered greatly and spent over a year in bed. We did not know whether she could see or hear us for more than a year. Last week, we received a call and we were told that today is the day. We gathered as friends, family, sat around and played music and held her and at about 3pm, it was clear that this was the moment…

“… and it was beautiful because all the children, friends and family were with her and she left us in style while classic music was playing,” he said.

As a humble leader, Justice Mokgoro was lauded for her down-to-earth demeanour and her soft-spokenness, as well as for espousing the very principles of ubuntu even in her professional career.

“Her ubuntu was not just spoken words, but she lived by this principle and she encouraged those she worked with to embrace them. Her humility was evident even to those she worked with,” said Mpho Makwana, trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

According to Independent Media, Mokgoro’s passing followed a prolonged struggle after a severe car accident approximately nine months ago, from which she never fully recovered.

Mokgoro was the first black woman justice to be appointed to the Constitutional Court and served at the ConCourt from 1994 until the end of her term in 2009.

She played a pivotal role in shaping South Africa's legal landscape. As one of the pioneering black members of the judiciary in the country's democratic era, Mokgoro exemplified dedication and scholarship.

Saturday Star

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