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Judge Andre Henry Petersen

Capacity: Judge
First Appointed:
April 2021
Gender: Male


April 2021 Interview Synopsis:

Born and raised in Johannesburg, magistrate Andre Petersen said he “left it over to God” to decide whether to apply for a position at the Gauteng High Court, or to the North West High Court — he has acted in both divisions.

The divine spirit obviously has an affinity for the dusty, laid-back, platinum-encrusted surrounds of Herman Charles Bosman’s countryside, rather than the concrete crush of the Big Smoke: Petersen was nominated for appointed to the North West Bench by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Many cases in the province relate to mining concessions and the rights of rural communities, the majority of whom live with traditional authorities. ANC member of the National Council of Provinces, Thamsanqa Dodovu, pressed Petersen on his knowledge of customary law and statutes which govern traditional councils and the rights of rural communities. While he came up short with direct knowledge, Petersen assured the commission that his job was to “locate the law” and to research such matters “to make sure that we will give to the community a fair hearing” when such matters appeared before him.

The beleaguered South African Broadcasting Corporation has been selling off non-essential assets to feed the gaping hole of debt it finds itself in after years of misgovernance by former president Jacob Zuma’s crony, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

These include rental stock in the North West. Residents of one such rental establishment had sought an urgent interdict to stop the auction of their homes. Premier Job Mokgoro noted that Petersen had dismissed the application in a judgment that he felt reflected “very little social justice” and a “narrow interpretation of the law” which resulted in the “dislodging” of families. “I was disturbed by your decision in this matter,” Mokgoro observed, asking Petersen for comment.

Petersen said the application was on “very narrow” grounds, despite the residents having first refusal on buying the property — which they had not indicated in any arguments before him — and he had to deal with the case in front of him. Petersen said the affected party was applying for leave to appeal his decision in June and he would approach that with an open mind.

Petersen dismissed a written complaint against him that alleged he formed a cabal within the North West judiciary and which suggested his being a “crony” of the division’s judge president, Monica Leeuw.  He said he was “caught in the cross-hairs” of some previous beef which he did not quite grasp.

On his judicial philosophy, Petersen said he was aware of the need for judicial activism to rectify the historical wrongs and inequalities which affected contemporary South Africa, but remained mindful of the need for judicial restraint too, to ensure the rule-of law was maintained.

Petersen was recommended for appointment.