First appointed as judge: 2007 (Western Cape High Court)
Further appointments: 2014 (Supreme Court of Appeal)
Date of Birth: December 1957
Qualifications: B.Juris (UFH), LLB (UKZN), LLM (Georgetown University)
- Levenstein v Estate of the Late Sidney Lewis Frankel (CCT170/17)  ZACC 16; 2018 (8) BCLR 921 (CC); 2018 (2) SACR 283 (CC) (14 June 2018)
- Herbert N.O v Senqu Municipality  ZASCA 177.
- Premier of the Province of Gauteng v Democratic Alliance  ZASCA 136;  1 All SA 60.
- Afribusiness NPC v Minister of Finance  ZASCA 140;  1 All SA 1 (SCA).
- S v Duna  ZAWCHC 82.
Justice Dumisani Zondi was born in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. He currently is a judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal where he was permanently appointed in 2014 and currently serves as a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee of the Judicial Service Commission.
In 1984 Zondi joined Mendelsohn & De Villiers in Germiston, Gauteng as an articled clerk (candidate attorney). He was admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa in 1986 and worked as a professional assistant (associate attorney) at Hattenbach & Abraham for a year before moving to LegalWise as a legal advisor in 1988. Zondi took a leap of faith and went solo by starting his own practice, Zondi Attorneys. He stayed there for 18 years before being called to the bench as a judge in 2007, after holding several acting stints from 2004 .
In his private practice, Zondi trained several candidate attorneys, who were mostly women, who have gone on to make great strides in their legal careers.
He was appointed to the bench in the Western Cape High Court in 2007, the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2014, and has since acted in the Competition Appeal Court, Labour Appeal Court, and the Constitutional Court.
Zondi was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C where he reads towards an LLM in Labour Law.
Zondi has written several significant judgments since his first appointment as a judge in 2007.
In 2010, Zondi gave judgment in Woodways CC v Vallie, a case concerning in the application of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEDUDA).
In that case, Zondi was to determine whether the appellant’s employees’ request to the respondent, a Muslim customer to remove a fez (a felt hat commonly worn by Muslim men as an expression of their religion) amounted to an act of unfair discrimination within the scope of PEPUDA.
The appellant argued that the respondent’s claim had to be dismissed on the ground that his pleaded case did not disclose a cause of action. This was rejected by Zondi on the basis that the promise of quality and easy access to justice, which PEPUDA seeks to fulfil, would not be realized if the parties who brought the discrimination cases were expected to be unreasonably meticulous in the way they plead their causes of action.
While acting as a justice of the Constitutional Court, Zondi gave judgment in the Levenstein case, which declared section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act unconstitutional for prescribing a 20-year limit on the prosecution of sexual offences like rape. This removed a key barrier for victims who were sexually abused as children but who now sought justice as adults.
More recently, in Premier for the Province of Gauteng v Democratic Alliance, an urgent appeal against the ANC-run provincial government’s dissolution of the DA-run City of Tshwane Municipal Council and appointment of an administrator, Zondi penned the SCA’s majority judgment.
In that case, the High Court had found the Gauteng Government’s dissolution decision to be unlawful, and the DA had obtained an additional order to put the High Court decision into operation. The Gauteng Premier was appealing this aspect.
Zondi found that section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution expressly provides a 90-day time limit for the administrator to be appointed, and the putting into operation of the High Court order setting aside the dissolution would be giving effect to that constitutional provision. Zondi held that the alternative, which is the setting aside the operational order of the High Court’s decision, would allow the administrator to have an unlimited stay in office, against the Constitution’s express provisions.
As a senior member of the judiciary’s disciplinary processes, Zondi has been involved in some controversial cases. He wrote the Judicial Conduct Appeal Committee’s majority decision which dismissed Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s appeal against an earlier finding by the Judicial Conduct Committee. The JCC had found Mogoeng guilty of judicial misconduct for his comments on a webinar where he criticized the South African government’s foreign policy toward the State of Israel. Zondi upheld the JCC’s finding but amended the remedial order, instructing that Mogoeng issue a written public apology instead of the more humiliating apology in front of the justices of the Constitutional Court.
The 65 year-old Zondi holds a B.Juris degree from the University of Fort Hare, an LLB from the University of the KwaZulu-Natal and an LLM from Georgetown University, as a Fulbright Scholar. He was a member of the Black Lawyers Association (2001 – 2007) and is a ‘friend’ of the SA Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges since 2019.
October 2022 Interviews