Admitted as Attorney: December 1998
Ethnicity: Black African
Date of Birth: October 1972
Qualifications: B.Juris LLB (UKZN), LLM (UP), Postgrad.Cert (Legal Aspects of eCommerce) (UNISA), Cert (Energy Law) (Wits), Cert. (Air, Space & Telecommunications Law) (UP)
- Van Schalkwyk v Harvey (Case No. 5761/2015)  ZAECGHC (5 September 2019).
- S v Zide (Case No. CC17/2018)  ZAECGHC (9 May 2018).
- The Office of Premier Eastern Cape v The Director-General of the Office of the Premier, Eastern Cape Province and Another (Case No. 61/18)  ZAECBHC (23 April 2019).
- De Jager No and Another v Cockin (Case No. 1386/2018)  ZAECGHC (24 January 2020).
Ms Sandiwa Mfenyana has had a vibrant, somewhat eclectic legal career. Over the last 23 years, she has been a legal aid lawyer, a researcher, a compliance officer and even a legal investigator in the National Intelligence Agency, among other things.
Mfenyana started her legal career in 1997 as a candidate attorney, and was subsequently a professional assistant at the Grahamstown office of Legal Aid SA. In 1999, Mfenyana joined the SA Human Rights Commission as a Legal Officer before taking up a research fellowship at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
In 2000, Mfenyana joined the Law Society of the Northern Provinces as a legal advisor. In 2002, she was appointed as a legal investigator at the National Intelligence Agency, where she spent five years before moving to the Office of the Inspector-General for Intelligence as the Compliance and Review Officer until 2009.
Mfenyana took a leap of faith and started her law firm, Mfenyana Attorneys in 2009. She runs a general legal practice, with a bias towards commercial law, administrative law litigation, aviation and energy law, with clients in both the public and private sector. As an attorney, she has appeared in numerous matters, the most notable being Body Corporate of Prince George v Mfimfita, Ndlazi v Kunene, and Shabane v Department of Rural Department and Land Reform, which dealt with the powers of the Minister over Director-Generals.
Mfenyana has served as an acting judge in numerous terms in the Eastern Cape High Court Division and the Gauteng High Court Division. In 2018, she wrote S v Zide, where the accused was convicted of the charges of housebreaking with the intent to commit rape and rape. In addressing the interests of society, Mfenyana noted the scourge of rape on women and children and stated that
‘… society looks up to the courts to impose harsher sentences, but one cannot sentence to satisfy public demand for revenge… true retribution is effected only by the imposition of an appropriate sentence, by a sentence which is in proportion to what is deserved by the offender.’
The accused was sentenced to five years housebreaking with the intent to commit rape and life imprisonment for rape, with both sentences running concurrently.
Mfenyana holds a string of qualifications: a BJuris and an LLB from the then the University of Durban (now UKZN), an LLM and a Postgraduate Certificate in Energy Law from the University of Pretoria, a Certificate in Legal Aspects of e-Commerce from UNISA, and a Certificate in Air, Space and Telecommunications from Wits.
April 2022 JSC Interview
October 2021 Interview
October 2021 Interview Synopsis
Ms Sandisiwe Mfenyana has a string of qualifications in a wide spectrum of legal fields: energy law, telecommunications, space, e-Commerce, and even air law. In a comment at the beginning of Mfenyana’s interview, Acting Chief Justice Zondo remarked that he liked the diversity in the certificates Mfenyana acquired, “it’s an unusual diversity” he said, asking what motivated her to pursue these qualifications. Mfenyana said it was first inspired by her curiosity but also her desire to serve her clients better, in the niche areas of business they were in. Zondo also said he was impressed that Mfenyana as an attorney had argued cases herself in the High Court and the Labour Court.
Mfenyana has been acting as a judge at various times since 2018 but has chalked up about 11 applications for permission to appeal her judgments (but only 3 succesful). Professor Engela Schlemmer says the 11 seem quite a lot and asked whether the number of appeal applications should concern the JSC. Mfenyana replied that she has written dozens of judgments, and only 11 appeal applications, and even for those, only 3 were successful and added that this was “not too bad”.
Although Mfenyana answered most questions adequately, he was unsuccessful in his interview. This is probably a reflection of how tough this October 2021 Eastern Cape round was (with at least four silks and a senior professor being interviewed). This is a far cry from the Eastern Cape rounds of the past where some candidates were simply unappointable.