First appointed as judge: January 2013 (Gauteng, Pretoria)
Date of Birth: October 1957
Qualifications: B.Proc, LLB (Limpopo)
- South African National Editors’ Forum v Economic Freedom Fighters (90405/18)  ZAEQC 6 (24 October 2019)
- Petrus Johannes Bestbier and Others v Nedbank Limited (150/2021)  ZASCA 88 (13 June 2022)
- South African Fruit and Vegetable Canners Association v Impumelelo Agri Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd (82759/2018)  ZAGPPHC 227;  3 All SA 242 (GP) (14 May 2021)
- Lewis Stores (Pty) Ltd v Summit Financial Partners (Pty) Ltd (A355/18)  ZAGPPHC 473 (10 September 2019)
- National Director of Public Prosecutions (Ex Parte Application) (669/2020)  ZASCA 142; 2022 (1) SACR 1 (SCA) (7 October 2021)
Judge Daisy Sekao Molefe currently serves as a judge of the Gauteng High Court, based in Tshwane (Pretoria).
Molefe is a bit of a rare breed: a black woman who grew up during apartheid but amassed a wealth of commercial law experience. A titan of the attorney’s profession, Molefe built up a formidable reputation as a pathbreaking pioneer.
Born in Rustenburg in the platinum province, Molefe matriculated from Moroka High School in Thaba Nchu and went to the University of Limpopo. There, she graduated with a B.Proc degree in 1982, and an LLB in 1984. She then joined the University of the North West as a lecturer (1984 – 1985).
Between 1986 and 1987, Molefe joined the prestigious commercial law firm Edward Nathan & Friedland as a candidate attorney, gaining crucial experience in a field of law very few black people had exposure to at that time and since then.
From 1988 she partnered with another black woman titan of the attorneys’ profession, Hlelephi Matolo-Dlepu, to form Molefe-Dlepu Attorneys, one of the first black woman-owned law firms in the country.
Molefe-Dlephu Attorneys specialised in commercial law, including merger and acquisitions, share sales, estate planning and trusts, properly law, and insolvency and company liquidations. The firm’s client based included large corporations like Absa Bank, and major parastatals like Eskom, Transnet, the Road Accident Fund, and Spoornet.
At the same time, Molefe became the Johannesburg regional director of public interest legal organisation, Lawyers for Human Rights (1988-1992).
Molefe was a renowned corporate governance specialist and served as independent chairperson on numerous entities, including: the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority’s appeal committee, the Transnet Group Tender Board, the Gauteng Government Development Appeal Tribunal, Spoornet’s risk management arm, the Eskom Corporate Formal Investigations Committee, and the Commission of Inquiry into fatal incidents at Spoornet.
Even while running a busy law practice, Molefe’s devotion to academia and training the next generation of lawyers was not demurred. For 15 years between 1995 and 2010 she served as a lecturer at the Law Society’s School of Law. From 1999 to 2013 she sat as a senior examiner in the attorney’s admission examinations.
She also served as an expert assessor in the criminal courts, sitting alongside judges in complex cases of murder and rape, which required the examination of forensice evidence.
After 25 years in commercial law practice, Molefe was finally elevated to the bench in 2013, and she became a judge of the Gauteng High Court, primarily based in Pretoria.
As a judge, Molefe penned several judgments of significant public important and developed the law.
When journalists felt under attack on social media and even publicly, the decided to take their battles against one of the insitigators of that violence to court. In SA National Editors Forum v Economic Freedom Fights, Molefe sat in the Equality Court and had to decide if comments by politicians from SA’s third largest political party constituted hate speech in terms of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000 (‘the Equality Act’).
In a speech outside the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and Corruption, EFF leader Julius Malema urged Fighters (EFF members) to: ‘attack’, ‘occupy every street…house.. and space…”, “not leave the enemy to chance”, and “where we meet the enemy, we must crush the enemy” and “on Facebook, Twitter, social media, be there, guard the revolution” and finally “when the enemy raises its ugly head, cut the head… [we have] no time to entertain enemies of the revolution… we must protect the revolution at all costs”.
He then singled out several journalists including Peter Bruce, Ranjeni Munusamy, Ferial Haffajee, and Peter Bruce, who all became complainants in this equality court. They argued that Malema’s speech constituted hate speech against journalists, within the meaning of section 10 of the Equality Act.
After analysing the legal framework, including the Constitution and the Equality Act, Molefe found that Mr Malema’s speech does not qualify as hate speech due to the absence of hatred and incitement of hatred of journalists as a whole.
She found that the complainants had failed to establish that being a journalist constitutes an ‘analogous ground’ of discrimination in terms of the Constitution and the protections afforded by the hate speech provisions of section 10 in the Equality Act.
She also held that a constitutionally compliant reading of the Equality Act necessitates a restrict interpretation which favours freedom of speech, except for the clearest cases of hate speech which, she found, this one was not. She therefore dismissed SANEF’s application with no order for them to pay legal costs.
Molefe has also held several stints as an acting judge in the Land Claims Court, including as judge president of that court.
She also has significant appellate experience, having acted in the Labour Appeal Court, and several stints in the Supreme Court of Appeal from June 2021.
While acting in the SCA, she wrote the court’s unanimous judgment in National Director of Public Prosecutions (Ex parte), which dealt with whether prosecutors needed to argue urgency in asset preservation cases done without notice to the other party, in terms of section 26 and 29 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA).
Mpumalanga High Court Acting Judge Hendik Roelofse had dismissed as lacking urgency an application by prosecutors to seize ammunition and vehicles used to poach 11 grey duiker, four bushbuck, a mountain reedbuck and a serval cat, all endangered species.
Molefe set aside high court’s dismissal order, holding that the acting judge had erred in not finding that a preservation order by its very nature is inherently urgent; and for treating the high court’s practice directive as if it had statutory force that overrides the provisions of POCA and the Uniform Rules of Court. She ordered that the seizure application be re-enrolled before another judge who will deal with the merits of the case.
The 65 year-old Molefe has served as a mentor to law students, pupil advocates, and acting judges. She’s been involved in the training of aspirant judges through the SA Judicial Education Institute. She now seeks permanent appointment to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
October 2022 Interview:
October 2022 JSC interview of Judge Daisy Sekao Molefe for a position on the Supreme Court of Appeal. Judge Molefes application was successful. .