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Judge Johannes Petrus Daffue

Capacity: Judge
First appointed as a judge: 2012 (Free State High Court)
Further appointment: 2022 (Special Tribunal) 2016 (Lesotho Court Martial)
Acting appointments: Deputy Judge President (2018, 2019, 2021) Supreme Court of Appeal (Jun 2022 – Nov 2023)
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: White
Date of Birth: June 1957
Qualifications: B.Proc (1979) (UFS) LLB (1981), LLM (Tax and Insolvency)(1998)(Unisa) MBA (2002)( Buckinghamshire New University, UK)

Key judgments:

  • Minister of Higher Education and Training and Others v Mthembu and Others, Council of Central University of Technology, Free State v Minister of Higher Education and Training (2776/2012, 2786/2012) [2012] ZAFSHC 144 (13 August 2012)
  • Lawrence v Magistrates Commission 2020 (2) SA 526 (FB)
  • Ex parte: National Director of Public Prosecutions (1540/2018) [2018] ZAFSHC 100 (12 June 2018)
  • VIP Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd v Mafube Municipality [2018] 3 All SA 922 (FB)
  • S v Frederiksen (33/2016) [2017] ZAFSHC 161; 2018 (1) SACR 29 (FB) (14 September 2017)

Candidate Bio:

Judge Johannes ‘JP’ Daffue is a judge of the Free State High Court. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Daffue had a long career in legal practice. After serving articles, he was admitted as an attorney in 1980, later a conveyancer and notary public, and then partner at Van Deventer, Daffue & Venter in Bloemfontein.

He joined the Free State Bar as an advocate 1989 and had a diverse practice. He served as a member of the Free State Bar Council (2003 – 2012) and was appointed as senior counsel in 2009. He practiced as a silk until his elevation to the Bench in 2012.

As a judge Daffue wrote several important judgments, including S v Fredriksen. In that case, Daffue presided over the gruesome trial of an accused who was charged, amongst other offences, with removing human tissue from a living person in terms of the Health Act. Judge Daffue found that the Act in fact did not create criminal offences in respect of those charges. The accused was therefore discharged in respect of the alleged violations of the Health Act as he did not commit a ‘crime’.

In Lawrence v Magistrates Commission, Daffue considered the legality of the appointments process followed by the Magistrates Commission, and the vexed question of how to deal with the demographic transformation of the judiciary. The applicant, a white male, had not been shortlisted for various magistrates’ vacancies notwithstanding positive reports about his abilities. In his judgment, Daffue found that the Commission had not had the required quorum when the shortlisting decisions were taken. Furthermore, the relevant Committee of the Magistrates Commission had “had a total disregard” for the applicable legislation, regulations, its own shortlisting process “and the rights of white [candidates] to at least be considered during the shortlisting process”. By failing to consider shortlisting white candidates, Daffue found that the Committee had “lost the opportunity to duly consider whether applicant was not perhaps such an excellent candidate that he should be recommended for appointment, notwithstanding the obligation to ensure that s 174(2) is diligently applied.” The Magistrates Commission proceedings were therefore set aside.

Daffue has acted as Deputy Judge President for four terms between 2018 and 2020. He has also served on the Lesotho Court Martial Appeal Court since 2016. He has acted as a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal for four terms from June 2022 to November 2023.

At the SCA, Daffue wrote the judgment in Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund v Guilherme, which was a case about whether money paid into an attorney’s trust account and subsequently stolen could be insured and paid back by the Fidelity Fund. The money in question (about R800 000 of an initial R4.5mil) was the proceeds of a life insurance policy that had been deposited into an attorneys’ trust account for the benefit of the deceased’s widow. They attorney in question was subsequently struck off the roll for unrelated misconduct but before he could fully account for the monies in his trust account. Upon discovering the R800 000 that was not paid over to her, the widow, Ms Guilherme, reported this to the Attorney’s Fidelity Fund. But the AFF dismissed her claim. Ms Guilherme appealed the dismissal in the High Court and won. But the AFF then appealed to the SCA. Writing for a unanimous SCA bench, Daffue dismissed the AFF’s appeal and found that the law was clear that the AFF had a duty to compensate Ms Guilherme as her money was entrusted to the attorney.

Daffue has written Corbett and Honey: Quantum of Damages in Bodily and Fatal Injury Cases, the leading text on the subject and frequently referred to by legal practitioners and judges.

Judge Daffue holds a BProc from the University of the Free State, an LLB and an LLM (insolvency and tax) from UNISA, and an MBA from Buckinghamshire New University in the United Kingdom. Unusual among his male counterparts, Judge Daffue has been (since 2018) a member of the South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges.

October 2023 Interview:

Judge Johannes Daffue’s October 2023 interview for a position on the Supreme Court of Appeal was unsuccessful. He was not nominated for appointment.

April 2021 Interview: