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Judge Mandla Petrus Nathan Mbongwe

Capacity: Judge
First Appointment: April 2021
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: African

Key judgments:
(1) M v Road Accident Fund (21738/2014) [2015] ZAGPJHC 118 ;
(2) S v Nzimande And Another (6548/2013) [2013] ZAGPJHC 175 ;
(3) V v S (A230/2019) [2020] ZAGPPHC 681 (28 May 2020);
(4) Kirsten Curtis Trust IT 318/91 and Others v Berkley Development (Pty) Ltd and Another [2014] JOL 32295 (GSJ);
(5) Pioneer Foods (Pty) Ltd v Eskom Holdings SOC Limited and Others (2018/16) [2020] ZAGPJHC 248 (12 October 2020)

Candidate bio:
An attorney, Mbongwe has a B.Proc from the University of the North and has run Mandla Mbongwe Attorneys from 1985 to 2005. He also served as a partner at Moodie and Robertson Attorneys from 2006-07, before returning to his own firm.

The member of the Johannesburg Attorneys Association and the Black Lawyers Association has vast experience in civil law, especially commercial law. Mr Mbongwe enjoys farming as one of his hobbies and as such, he gives legal advice to a group of farmers. He has also handled pro bono matters.

A lawyer for 31 years Mbongwe has spent more than 89 weeks acting as a judge in the high courts. He was first appointed as an acting judge in 2013 in the Provincial and Local Divisions of the Gauteng High Courts and has since handed down more than 80 written judgements. Mr Mbongwe has periodically acted as a judge for various terms.

April 2021 Interview Synopsis: 

Previously given short shrift by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for his quick temper and overturned judgments which suggested a lack of basic knowledge of the law, attorney Madla Mbongwe had a much easier ride this time around.

Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo acknowledged that Mbongwe had demonstrated a certain “maturity” during his more recent acting stints and had even asked for more cases when he had completed work allocated to him.

When Mbongwe told the commission that he had indeed learnt from lessons of the past, Mlambo responded: “I can agree, I have been watching you.”

Professor Engela Schlemmer, representing the legal academics, raised concerns about Mbongwe’s knowledge of the law as demonstrated by his judgment writing. Mbongwe responded that he was confident in his knowledge of the law having written over 80 judgments “on different aspects of the law” and suggested that the criticisms weren’t applicable to all of them.

He was asked about the “fusion” of the advocates and attorneys’ profession which the new Legal Practices Act appeared to have failed in achieving and said this was “long overdue”.

April 2021 Interview:

2017 Interview synopsis: 

Mbongwe was previously unsuccessful in attempts to get appointed to the Bench. Last year the Judicial Service Commission had raised concerns about his judicial temperament following complaints from advocate bodies about his rude attitude in court.

Advocate Mike Hellens SC asked how it could be that, in the 16 weeks that Mbongwe has spent acting since his previous interview, he had “turn[ed] into a model judge”?

Mbongwe said following his previous interview he had taken on the feedback from the commission and also sought advice from Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo. This exercise, Mbongwe said, meant his court behaviour had been “successfully” rectified.

Mbongwe confirmed that he did not have problems writing and finalising judgments promptly.

2017 Interview: