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Judge Namhla Thina Siwendu

Judge N T Y Siwendu_0164

Capacity: Judge
First appointed as judge:  January 2017 (Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg)
Further appointment:  October 2019 (Special Tribunal)
Acting appointments: Competition Appeal Court (Feb – Dec 2020, Jan – Dec 2022); Supreme Court of Appeal (Jun 2022 – Sep 2023)
Gender: Woman
Ethnicity: African
Date of Birth: July 1966
Qualifications: B.Soc.Sci (1987) B. Social Work (Hons)(1988)(UCT) LLB (1991)(UKZN) Cert (Global Faculty Development)(2010) (Penn.Uni, USA)

Key Judgements:

  • Special Investigation Unit (SIU) v Mazibuko (GP010/2021) [2021] ZAST 9 (4 October 2021)
  • Astek Property Group (Pty) Ltd v Crypton Properties CC (2020/23712) [2021] ZAGPJHC 113 (25 May 2021)
  • Marce Projects (Pty) Ltd v City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality (2019/33291) [2021] ZAGPJHC 137 (29 March 2021)
  • T-Systems (Pty) Ltd v BDM Technology Services (Pty) Ltd; In re BDM Technology Services (Pty) Ltd v T-Systems (Pty) Ltd (2019/39986) [2020] ZAGPJHC 243 (7 October 2020)
  • MacKay v Bidcorp Food Africa (Pty) Ltd (40557/17) [2018] ZAGPJHC 714 (28 June 2018)
  • Ex Parte KAF and Others (2018/5329) [2018] ZAGPJHC 529; 2019 (2) SA 510 (GJ) (28 June 2018)

Candidate Bio | Updated October 2023

Judge Namhla Thina Siwendu is a judge of the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg.

An attorney for 21 years, Siwendu’s illustrious career included working as a researcher at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University, a candidate attorney at progressive law firm Cheadle Thompson & Haysom, and later joining the South African Law Reform Commission as a commissioner.

Siwendu is a corporate law and governance specialist and has sat on the boards of a number of major Blue Chip companies.

Siwendu was one of the first black women to successfully run her own commercial attorney’s firm, Siwendu & Partners Inc. from 1996 until 2012, when it merged with Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer Inc – one of the ‘Big 5’ law firms in SA.

In 2015, she formed part of the National Forum for the Transformation of the Legal Profession. The Forum was established to facilitate major reforms in the legal profession and was the forerunner to the statutory Legal Practice Council, which now governs both attorneys and advocates.

In 2019 she gave Stellenbosch University’s Annual Africa Day Lecture titled “A Mother’s Reflection on Suicide Loss in Post-Apartheid South Africa” where she told of the pain of the tragic loss of her young son to suicide.  This drew on her residency at world-renowned Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela’s South African Research Chair in Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma at Stellenbosch University.

Siwendu is one of the founding members of the revitalised Johannesburg Commercial Court, which sought to claw-back from private arbitration some of the large and complex commercial law cases necessary for the development of the law. In 2019 she was seconded by President Ramaphosa to the Special Tribunal, which is a specialised court set up to adjudicate cases meant to recover assets lost to the State through corruption and maladministration.

Siwendu holds a B.Soc.Sci (Honours)(Social Work) degree from the University of Cape Town and an LLB from University of Natal (now UKZN). She is an accredited arbitrator with the Independent Mediation Services of SA, and holds a Global Faculty Development certificate from the Wharton Business School from the University of Pennsylvania, USA.

Siwendu’s initial experience in the appellate courts was earned from her stint at the Competition Appeal Court (Jan – Dec 2022) where she wrote the judgement in Competition Commission v Coca Cola Beverages Africa, which deals with the Competition Tribunal’s review powers.

From June 2022 to October 2023, Siwendu served as acting judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal, further bolstering her appellate experience.

As an attorney, Siwendu was member of the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society (1996 – 2013) and the Black  Lawyers Association (1998 – 2017). As a judge, Siwendu is a member of the Internation Association of Women Judges’ SA chapter (from 2017), a trainer with the African Regional Judges Forum, and have served on numerous committees in the Johannesburg High Court.

October 2023 interview

Judge Namhla Thina Siwendu’s October 2023 interview for a position on the Supreme Court of Appeal was unsuccessful. She was not nominated for appointment.

October 2016 interview

Asked by justice minister Michael Masutha why it was so difficult to attract and keep black women in positions within the judiciary, Siwendu suggested that “at the centre of [the reluctance] is money” as people were unwilling to give up lucrative careers or sign up to the Constitutional project and vision for South Africa.

Siwendu admitted that she sometimes struggled to write judgments, but that the delays did not accord with her personal values. She was also probed on her role at the SA Law Reform Commission and whether gender played any role in the adjudication of cases. She responded that it had and cited the Volks v Robinson matter which came before the Constitutional Court.

The matter, which dealt with the rights of the surviving spouse under the Maintenance Act, saw judges Yvonne Mokgoro and Kate O’Regan write a dissenting judgment which took a contextual approach in interpreting the Act’s provisions, while the majority judgment (by a majority male court) followed a contract law-based interpretation of the provisions.

Interview Synopsis:

Asked by justice minister Michael Masutha why it was so difficult to attract and keep black women in positions within the judiciary, Siwendu suggested that “at the centre of [the reluctance] is money” as people were unwilling to give up lucrative careers or sign up to the Constitutional project and vision for South Africa.

Siwendu admitted that she sometimes struggled to write judgments, but that the delays did not accord with her personal values. She was also probed on her role at the SA Law Reform Commission and whether gender played any role in the adjudication of cases. She responded that it had and cited the Volks v Robinson matter which came before the Constitutional Court.

The matter, which dealt with the rights of the surviving spouse under the Maintenance Act, saw judges Yvonne Mokgoro and Kate O’Regan write a dissenting judgment which took a contextual approach in interpreting the Act’s provisions, while the majority judgment (by a majority male court) followed a contract law-based interpretation of the provisions.