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Judge James Dumisani Lekhuleni

Capacity: Judge
First appointed as a judge: 2022 (Western Cape)
Gender:  Male
Ethnicity: African
Date of Birth: September 1970

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Candidate Bio

Judge James Lekhuleni is a judge of the Western Cape High Court, Cape Town.

By the time Dr James Lekhuleni  was permanently appointed as a judge from January 2022, he had spent time in almost every corner of the legal profession. From 1994 until 2021 he was a candidate attorney, a legal costs consultant, a public prosecutor, a corporate legal advisor, an attorney in private practice, a military judge, an additional magistrate, an acting regional magistrate, a regional magistrate, and the acting president of the Western Cape Regional Court. Phew!

Lekhuleni’s string of legal jobs is only matched by his string of qualifications in length: he holds B.Proc and LLB degrees from the University of the North (now University of Limpopo), two LLM qualifications from the University of Pretoria, and a doctoral LLD degree from the University of the Western Cape, where he is also currently enrolled for his third LLM degree, this time in International Criminal Law.

Lekhuleni is a prolific author and is regular contributors to several publications in the legal profession, including De Rebus, attorneys’ journal and the SAJEI newsletter aimed at magistrates. He is also active in the organised legal profession as a member of the SA Society of Labour Lawyers (SASLAW), the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), and the Association of Regional Magistrates of SA (ARMSA).

While acting as a judge, Lekhuleni had to deal with the African Transformation Movement v Speaker of the National Assembly case involving complex questions of constitutional law. The political party ATM sought to overturn the Speaker’s decision to deny a secret ballot in a Motion of No Confidence in the president. Lekhuleni had to decide whether the High Court had the jurisdiction to inquire and review the Speaker’s decisions, and whether the Speaker’s refusal was lawful and constitutional. After examining the law and long line of cases dealing with Parliament’s powers in terms of the constitution, Lekhuleni found that the High Court did have jurisdiction to review the speaker’s decision. He also found that the Speaker’s had exercised her discretion to refuse the secret ballot vote in a lawful and constitutional manner. He therefore dismissed ATM’s case. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeal found that the Speaker failed to properly exercise her discretion and therefore overturned Lekhuleni’s judgment.

Acting President David Mabuza appointed Lekhuleni as a judge from January 2022.


October 2021 JSC Interview

October 2021 Interview synopsis

Interview of Dr James Dumisani Lekhuleni by the JSC, October 2021, for a position on the Western Cape High Court.

Lekhuleni’s string of qualifications dazzled the JSC and commissioners seemed to be jostling for a chance to ask him questions of personal academic interest. Judge President Hlophe asked him on his understanding of the Rule of Law, the response to which quickly turned into a constitutional law lecture. Professor Schlemmer asked Lekhuleni about his judicial philosophy, and again he quoted several sections of the constitution to say that his philosophy is based on the constitution.

Dr Lekhuleni’s interview was successful, and he was recommended for appointed to the Western Cape High Court.