Should there be any hierarchy amongst the judges?

  • Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson, (first referred to as the President of the Court), would preside and his deputy would sit on his right. 
  • The Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice would always sit in the middle of the bench whilst the rest of the judges would have different seats in each term which would be randomly assigned to show that there is no special hierarchical arrangement to the seating outside that of the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice.
  • The Chief Justice would be referred to as the first amongst equals, symbolising that no special distinction sets the Chief Justice apart from the Deputy Chief Justice and the other nine Justices other than additional and important administrative duties. 
  • The distinctive appointment process for the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice signifies that their duties require them to represent the judiciary and to act on its behalf in dealings with the other arms of government. 
  • When it comes to deciding on the cases before the Court, the views of all of the judges would count and their voices would be heard equally. 
  • Like all the other judges, the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice have one vote when deciding on the outcome of cases.
  • The judges found it important in the design of the Court’s chamber for the bench to be at eye level with the legal counsel’s lectern, so that there would be no hierarchical reverence for the judiciary like it is in other apex courts around the world.


Audio Visual

President Mandela gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Mandela ends his address with the words, “Let us all get down to work”.

“We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.”– President Mandela, extract from State of the Nation Address, 24 May 1994

President Nelson Mandela announces his cabinet. It includes members of the African National Congress, National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.

“There was pride in serving in the first democratic government in South Africa, and then the additional pride of serving under the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela … [He] represented the hopes of not just our country, but of oppressed, marginalised and the poor in the world.”– Jay Naidoo, then Minister of RDP housing
“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”– President Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994