Current Position: Attorney
Forty-three-year-old Feziwe Renqe has worked as an attorney for most of her career. She has acted in the different seats of the Eastern Cape division every year since 2015 and also spent one term at the Western Cape High Court in 2016.
In the Eastern Cape High Court matter of Fortuin v Church of Christ Mission of the Republic of South Africa, Renqe was asked to review the church’s decision to discontinue the applicant’s fellowship of the church and prohibit him from his pastoral duties as an ordained minister. This was due to the pastor’s divorce from his first wife and his subsequent remarriage.
The respondents argued that the court lacked jurisdiction, as the impugned decision had been taken in Pretoria; that there had been a misjoinder of second and third respondents; and that the court lacked the powers to determine religious disputes.
Renqe held that the decision in issue had been confirmed and ratified in Port Elizabeth, and therefore the court had jurisdiction in terms of the Superior Courts Act, as the cause of action arose within its jurisdiction.
She rejected the argument of misjoinder and on the question of whether the courts could exercise review authority over religious disputes, Renqe held:
“In my view there is ample authority in support of the proposition that courts are empowered to interfere with the decision made by a tribunal where the fundamental principles of fairness have been flouted. The issue to be taken into consideration is whether or not the tribunal was competent to make that decision and whether it complied with the requirements of procedural and substantive fairness.”
Renqe found the evidence supported the applicant’s claim that there had been no hearing, in violation of the church’s constitution and that the applicant had made out a case for the relief sought. The decision to “disfellowship” and/or suspend the applicant was set aside.
In S v Luna the appellant was convicted of raping an 8-year-old girl and sentenced to life imprisonment in the regional court. On appeal, the issue was whether the state had established the appellant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and whether the sentence was disproportionate.
Renqe (with then acting judge Selby Mbenenge concurring) noted that the state’s case rested on the evidence of a single child witness, but that the complainant’s version of the rape “was clear and straight forward. She did not contradict herself and remained unshaken under cross-examination. It is evident that the complainant had a good recollection of and was able to narrate the event very well. She was intelligent enough to answer the questions that were put to her even though she was a child witness.”
The complainant’s evidence was corroborated by her mother, while Renqe found the appellant’s version of events “far from convincing”.
Noting that “much was made” of the fact that the complainant had to be beaten before reporting the rape, Renqe said it was “widely accepted” that there are many factors that inhibit rape victims from immediately disclosing their assault.
“It is clear in this matter that the complainant feared the consequences of disclosure, given the fact that she had been threatened by the appellant. There was thus nothing unusual about the complainant’s behaviour of not immediately reporting the appellant. No other cogent reason was advanced before us against the trial court’s credibility finding in respect of the complainant, its assessment of her evidence and the rest of the State’s version.”
Finding the sentence justified Renqe dismissed the application.
Renqe obtained a B.Proc from the University of the North (Limpopo) in 1997 and a postgraduate diploma in corporate law from the University of South Africa (Unisa) in 2004. Two years later she completed a Management Advancement Programme at the University of Witwatersrand and in 2007 she obtained her Master of Laws in Intellectual Property Law from Unisa.