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Prof. Mbuzeni Johnson Mathenjwa

Capacity: Professor
Appointed: 2018
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: African
Date of Birth: February 1961
Qualifications: BIuris (Fort Hare) LLB (Wits) LLM and LLD (Unisa)

Key judgments:

Candidate Bio:

Professor Mbuzeni Johnson ‘MJ’ Mathenjwa has had an unconvential career in the law.

First starting off as a police constable with the SA Railways Police in 1982, Mathenjwa went on to start legal practice as a candidate attorney with Cox and Partners in 1996. Thereafter, he spent a stint as an associate attorney with Botha’s Incorporate in Empangeni, before branching off on his own under the name and style of Mathenjwa & Co.

He later joined government in 2002 as the head of the Community Safety Department of the KwaZulu-Natal Government. From 2004, he spent several years in municipal government as the municipal manager of two fairly large municipalities in KZN.

He started his academic career at the North West University in Mahikeng as a senior lecture in 2010. He later joined Unisa as a senior lecturer before rising through the academic ranks to reach associate professor (2016) and finally full professor in 2018, holding a C3-rating from the National Research Foundation.

He then retired from academia and joined the Johannesburg Bar (and later the Pan African Bar Association of SA) full time as a practising advocate in 2021

As an academic, Mathenjwa has extensive publications in various field of expertise including constitutional law and local government law, including a book titled Supervision of Local Government published in 2017.

Since 2020, Mathenjwa has held a few acting stints as a judge of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, Pietermaritzburg, where he has dealt with mostly civil matters and a few crime cases.

Mathenjwa regards his publications in the field of local government law as his most significant constitution to the law and the pursuit of justice. That, and his 2000 prosecution of a criminal appeal of a client who had run out of money in the middle of the trial. Mathenjwa took on the case pro bono and was successful on appeal.

At 61, Mathenjwa would be starting a judicial career at the age when most permanent judges are at the tail end of theirs, counting down the clock until retirement at 70 years. Will the JSC overlook his age in favour of Mathenjwa’s academic prowess?

April 2022 Interview