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'Building a Nation': The Judicial Role in South Africa

Hugh Corder is a graduate of the universities of Cape Town, Cambridge and Oxford. He has been the Professor of Public Law at Cape Town since 1987, and served as Dean of the Faculty from 1999 to 2008. He has participated in many aspects of the transition of the administration of justice in South Africa from apartheid to democracy, including serving on the committee which drafted the transitional Bill of Rights in 1993.

The founding of South Africa as a nation state just over a century ago was an attempt through constitutional governance to reconcile fiercely divided communities, largely within the white population, to the exclusion of those citizens classified as not falling within that group. The highest court in the country, established as part of that settlement, was conscious of its role in ensuring that the writ of the law ran throughout the national territory and in fostering such reconciliation. The revolutionary shift to a constitutional democracy consequent on the overthrow of apartheid in 1994 likewise saw the establishment of a new highest court (in constitutional matters) which has pursued an overt judicial policy aimed at national reconciliation. By means of a comparison of the Appellate Division and the Constitutional Court of South Africa, this article seeks to identify the similarities of the judicial record in the first fifteen years of the existence of these courts,in the context of the conclusions reached by Martin Chanock in Fear, Favour and Prejudice.

(2010) 28 No 2 Law in Context 60

   
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