The Constitutional Court

Inaugurated by President Mandela in 1995, the Constitutional Court is the guardian of our Constitution. The first judges had to create the Court’s rules, procedures, and styles of work. They decided that the new court building should be located in the heart of ‘Number Four’ – Johannesburg’s oldest prison. A diverse grouping of people have come before the Court to defend their fundamental rights, and to hold government accountable.

Learn how a new institution was created, how it functions, and some of the key landmark judgments that have entrenched our constitutional rights.


The need for a new Court

Founding the New Court

Constructing A New Home

A Spectacular New Building

Inner Workings Of The Court

Exploring Some Landmark Cases

Meet The Judges


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