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Judge Robin George Mossop SC

Adv. R G Mossop SC_2988

Candidate Bio:

Between them, the three accused in S v Shange / Mchunu had gone on a killing spree and murdered at least 18 people. They were professional assassins. When the trial came before then Acting Judge Rob Mossop in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, the court had to be under strict security.

The prosecutors had already indicated that the accused were a safety risk to the witnesses, the prosecutor and to the judge. Despite this, the trial had to proceed. The trial had already been delayed by the violent riots which rocked KZN, plus the raging fourth wave of the covid-19 pandemic. Due to both incidents, the trial had already been truncated and court time was scarce.

The trial eventually got under way and was wrapped up in days. Senior prosecutor Advocate Annelize Harrison – in a recommendation letter sent to the JSC – credits this to Mossop’s excitement and work ethic, which “spilled over to everyone: the stenographers, interpreters, defence counsel, police etc.”

Durban Advocate Rob Mossop SC has been an advocate for 26 years. He started his legal career in 1987 as a candidate attorney, before becoming an associate attorney, and later a public prosecutor and magistrate. This gave him ample exposure to criminal law and procedure, which he was to later focus his first few years as an advocate in private practice from 1996.

During his career as an advocate Mossop has held a general litigation practice that deals with a broad diversity of legal areas from commercial law, administrative law, to the occasional labour and land-related matters.

From 2019, Mossop has held several stints an acting judge in both the Pietermaritzburg and the busier Durban centres of the KZN High Court. In total, he has acted for 42 weeks and has penned nearly 80 judgments, none of which have been set aside on appeal.

Mossop holds BA and LLB degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. At 61, he is on the rather advanced age of people coming into the judiciary, and this might be an issue for the JSC. But will they overlook this and appoint someone who seems to have the skill, work ethic, and humour for the extremely difficult job of a judge?

April 2022 Interview:

Advocate Mossop’s April 2022 interview for a position on the KZN Division of the High Court was successful. He was nominated for appointment.

April 2021 Interview:

April 2021 Interview Synopsis:

At only 18 minutes in length, Durban advocate Rob Mossop’s interview was short as far as JSC interviews go. KZN education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, standing in for the premier, asked what a transformed judiciary would look like. “At its most basic level, the constitution requires that the Bench looks like the population of South Africa,” Mossop said, adding that young black lawyers must see black judges that look like them. “But” Mossop went on, “the JSC needs to appoint the right people in the positions”.

In an attempt to hustle free legal advice from Mossop, Commissioner Thami ‘China’ Dodovu asked whether the ANC’s controversial ‘step-aside’ resolution – which requires its leaders indicted on criminal charges to withdraw from their positions until acquitted – was not a violation of the constitutional presumption of innocence. Mossop gave a long, lawyerly answer (“it depends,” he said) which caused Chief Justice Mogoeng to wonder aloud whether Mossop’s green tie with black and yellowish stripes invited such a question, which led to an eruption of laughter.

Advocate Mossop SC was ultimately not recommended for appointment, and that’s probably due to an answer he gave in response to the first question on the transformation of the judiciary.

Commissioner Lutendo Sigogo, representing the Black Lawyers’ Association, did not take too kindly to Mossop’s “but” in answer to that first question, as it presumably implied that the JSC was not appointing the “right” (read ‘white’) people to [judicial] positions. But there could be other reasons for his non-recommendation.