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Judge Maleshane ‘Shane’ Anna Kgoele

Capacity: Judge
First appointed as judge: November 2009 (North West High Court)
Further appointments: October 2019 (Mpumalanga High Court)
Gender: Female
Ethnicity: African
Date of Birth: June 1964
Qualifications: B.Proc (1987)(Limpopo) LLB (2005) LLM (2008)(Unisa)

Key judgments:

  • Tsajoa Royal Family v Premier, North West Province (HC11/2015) [2016] ZANWHC 71 (2 December 2016)
  • Sheldon-Lakey v State 2016 (2) SACR 632 (NWM) (14 July 2016)
  • Cipla Vet (Pty) Ltd v Merial (1068/2020) [2022] ZASCA 5 (11 January 2022)
  • BW Brightwater Way Props (Pty) Ltd v Eastern Cape Development Corporation 2021 (6) SA 321 (SCA) (19 April 2021)

Candidate Bio | updated October 2023

Judge Maleshane ‘Shane’ Kgoele is a judge of the Mpumalanga High Court.

Born in 1964 in Johannesburg, Kgoele matriculated from Alfred Maubane High School in Hamaanskraal. Shen then read for her B.Proc law degree at the University of the North (now Limpopo), graduating in 1987.

Kgoele was a district prosecutor in the Taung Magistrates Court from 1988 until her appointment as a magistrate in 1993 in the same court. She rose through the ranks of the magistracy, becoming head of office in 1993; senior magistrate in 1999; magistrates trainer at Justice College from 2001 until 2007; and regional magistrate from 2007 – 2008.

She was appointed as a judge of the North West High Court from 2009.

As a judge, she wrote several important judgments on a broad range of subjects such as criminal law, constitutional law, and children’s rights.

In Sheldon-Lakey v the State 2016 (2) SACR 632 (NWM), Kgoele dismissed an appeal by a temporary teacher who was convicted of having penetrative sex with a learner who was under 16 years old. The teacher had appealed on the grounds that the learner had misled her into believing that he was older than 16. Kgoele found that:

“Exploitation of emotional immature children and the risks of sexual transmitted diseases are causes of serious concern. The fact that the appellant was in an educator-learner relationship with the child aggravates the matter. What compounded the matter further is that the sexual encounter occurred more than once, even after the appellant received the birth certificate of the victim. The offence was committed by a person who clearly knows what the law and the scripture say about morality.”

After a brief stint (Jul – Sep 2018) as Acting Deputy Judge President, Kgoele was transferred in 2019 to the Mpumalanga High Court, where she was the first group of judges to establish that division.

From December 2020 until September 2022, Kgoele spent eight consecutive terms as an acting judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal. During that time, Kgoele wrote several important judgments including in Brightwater Props v Eastern Cape Development Corporation. The case concerned the constitutional validity of a contract for the lease of a government-owned hotel resort in the scenic Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast to the company Brightwater Props without following relevant government procurement policy. In its application, Brightwater wanted an order that the lease was valid, while in a counter-application, the ECDC wanted the lease declared invalid.

The High Court found the lease was invalid but such invalidity does not affect any of Brightwaters’ rights, including the right to occupy the hotel resort.  On appeal, Kgoele (with four other judges concurring) confirmed the finding of invalidity and ruled that it was an improper exercise of constitutional remedy discretion for the High Court to grant Brightwater all the rights in terms of an invalid leaser, and therefore that order was set aside.

During her time in the magistracy, between 2001 and 2009, Kgoele was a member of the Judicial Officers Association of South Africa (JOASA). In 2004 she was a founder member of the International Association of Women Judges, rising to the position of president of the SA chapter (2014 – 2018), and later president of the Africa region (2014 – 2017). She now serves as trust and vice chairperson of the SAC-IAWJ trust, and a member of the LLB Academic Advisory Board at the University of the Free State.

While Kgoele holds a long and impressive track record in the legal profession, and has made an enormous contribution to the advancement of women in the judiciary, there are serious questions about her readiness for the Supreme Court of Appeal, given her paucity in reported judgments, particularly in the areas of constitutional law and private law. Her appointment would also not do much of a dent in terms of transformation of the SCA, which already has a majority of women judges, most of whom are black.

October 2023 Interview:

Judge Anna Maleshane Kgoele’s October 2023 interview for a position on the Supreme Court of Appeal was successful. She was nominated for appointment.

October 2022 Interview:

October 2022 JSC Interview of Judge Maleshane Shane Kgoele for a position on the Supreme Court of Appeal. After a gruelling 2-hour interview – the longest of all interviews for the round – Judge Kgoele’s application was unsuccessful.

April 2021 Interview: 

April 2021 interview of Judge Maleshane Shane Kgoele for Deputy Judge President of the Mpumalanga High Court. With a relatively strong interview, Kgoele was unsuccessful likely because of a stronger candidate that she was competing against.

2017 Interview: 

2017 Interview Synopsis

Sometimes Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interviews move with the dynamisms of day-old porridge — with the attending public and, sometimes, commissioners, acquiring the demeanor of people drowning in its excruciatingly stodgy consistency.

Initially, this was one such interview. Judge Maleshane Kgoele appeared ill-prepared and under-qualified — often ponderous in her responses.

When she was unable to go into detail about the challenges the magistracy (Judges President and Deputy-Judges President oversee the magistrate’s and regional magistrates’ courts in the provinces) faces, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng expressed his irritation: “I thought that in preparation for this interview you would do more [research into the challenges]… that you would be curious to know more about the challenges you face [as a prospective Deputy-Judge President],” he said.

Withering, but not enthralling. Then she appeared to be ambushed, with a shipping container of dirty linen wheeled out and dumped on her.

North West Judge President Monica Leeuw confronted Kgoele about what appears a long-simmering issue at the court that related to the candidate’s refusal to give reasons for a number of cases which had not been finalised by her. This was after a complaint by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the province had been lodged with Leeuw in 2011.

Kgoele had responded in a letter saying that the reasons for several postponements were “self-explanatory” and “could be found in the record”, refusing to advance reasons. When questioned about it during her interview, Kgoele said her impression of the request was that it was not her Judge-President who was asking for reasons, but the DPP, “which in my view, I could not do”.

Leeuw then raised concerns about her apparent lack of interest in case-flow management. Kgoele took umbrage with the “manner” in which the concerns had been raised by Leeuw — a complaint lodged with the JSC 48 hours before her interview — and told the commission that she “would have appreciated if these were raised with me, rather than in public” and not in a “short-space of time, while I was preparing for my interview”.

She went further — by questioning the timing of the complaint — to suggest that there may have been malicious intent behind the manner it was lodged by Leeuw. Refusing to back down, Kgoele insisted that these issues could have been raised, and dealt with, as and when they had arisen in private, rather than in such a public platform — and well before her interview at the JSC.

Mogoeng observed that, despite Kgoele’s contention that she had a good working relationship with Leeuw, this appeared not to be the case. The Chief Justice said: “I don’t get the sense there is a healthy relationship between you… there is a lot of sarcasm [in your responses to Leeuw]… and the way she [Leeuw] puts questions to you it’s like a cross-examination”.

Commissioner Sifiso Msomi then asked Kgoele how she would be able to work with Leeuw since she appeared to be a “for lack of a better word, a problem child.”

Kgoele said “we have to be professional in our work… the complaints do not relate to my judicial work… I do my job when allocated.”

Towards the end of the interview, Leeuw stated that “it’s not true that we are having a good relationship… she has on and off days”.

Kgoele responded: “It’s unfortunate that my JP says that, I still maintain that I have no ill feeling towards my JP.”

The sense that the complaint lodged by Leeuw was an orchestrated attempt to either get Kgoele to withdraw her candidacy, or to discredit her in the eyes of the JSC, appeared to be borne out by the commission deciding not to recommend anyone for the position. Some commissioners, it would appear, had developed sympathy for Kgoele following the manner in which her interview had been set up — and stitched up, perhaps.

Prior to the face-off, Kgoele had, during her interview, listed several challenges facing the judiciary in the North West province. These included domestic violence cases only being heard on certain days, thus inhibiting access to justice; that there was no office space to interview complainants in gender-based violence cases, leaving these to be conducted in public; the backlog in the Children’s Court and that staff morale, especially between prosecutors and court clerks, was low.

She said her vision for the courts included getting “buy-in” from judges for case flow management and the introduction of a “mentorship programme” involving acting and prospective judges “shadowing” more experienced senior colleague for skills and knowledge development.