Starting off as a court clerk and interpreter in 1979, Khosi Hadebe worked her way up to the position of magistrate by 1995. She has worked in the magistracy until 2016
A Seventh Day Adventist church elder, Hadebe described herself as an “ex-magistrate” in her application forms for the Judicial Service Commission interview. She appears to have left the magistracy in late 2016 or early 2017 but no reasons were advanced in her application form.
Hadebe has spent the time since acting in the high courts in KwaZulu-Natal. Her acting experience in the hight court stretches back to 2006 and includes stints on the Eastern Cape Bench.
In the matter of Mbuso Patric Shusha v S, in which the appellant was appealing against several convictions of raping and sexually assaulting minors, Hadebe, with her colleague concurring, set aside the appeal.
She noted: “What is important is what the children testified to in details as to what had been done to them. And what they told the court had happened to them is what amounts to the offence of rape. It was not important, in the circumstances for them to know what the word “rape” means. The trier of fact had a duty to analyse and scrutinise their evidence, as he did, and to decide if what the children endured was actually rape.”
Hadebe obtained a B.Proc and an LLB from the University of Zululand and has an advanced diploma in labour law from the University of Johannesburg.
April 2018 Interview Synopsis:
A former magistrate, Khosi Hadebe said she resigned from that Bench because “I wasn’t going anywhere… I had done criminal court, like, forever, and there was no chance in hell that I was going to do civil matters,” she said.
Hadebe said her application to be appointed to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court was an opportunity for her to “utilise the time that I have in active service”.
Hadebe told the commission that she wanted to be a judge because it is an “honourable profession” which allowed one to “influence law by writing judgments”. She also believed that if she were appointed her rise to the Bench would be a “story of hope” for young children, girls especially, who had come from a similarly impoverished background as her own.
She said the transition from magistracy to the high court required more research and reading but upskilling “is a matter of intellect… a matter of courage” and that judges “must be teachable”.
Asked by KwaZulu-Natal deputy judge president Mjabuliseni Madondo whether she had any exposure to traditional law “which enjoys equal status as the common law”, Hadebe said it had been limited to when she “dealt with amakhosi” but she had not been exposed to any matters while acting at the high court.
KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Achmat Jappie, representing the heads of courts at the JSC, noted that his experience of her acting stints at his division was that “it does take time for you to complete matters” — to the extent that he “had to get the registrar to assist you in getting matters out”.
Hadebe had 34 partly heard matters when she resigned from the magistracy but these had been whittled down to four at the time of her interview. She also had two partly heard matters and two outstanding judgments in the high court — the latter she had undertaken to finalise by the end of the month.