Quote of the week

Although judicial proceedings will generally be bound by the requirements of natural justice to a greater degree than will hearings before administrative tribunals, judicial decision-makers, by virtue of their positions, have nonetheless been granted considerable deference by appellate courts inquiring into the apprehension of bias. This is because judges ‘are assumed to be [people] of conscience and intellectual discipline, capable of judging a particular controversy fairly on the basis of its own circumstances’: The presumption of impartiality carries considerable weight, for as Blackstone opined at p. 361 in Commentaries on the Laws of England III . . . ‘[t]he law will not suppose possibility of bias in a judge, who is already sworn to administer impartial justice, and whose authority greatly depends upon that presumption and idea’. Thus, reviewing courts have been hesitant to make a finding of bias or to perceive a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of a judge, in the absence of convincing evidence to that effect.

L'Heureux-Dube and McLachlin JJ
Livesey v The New South Wales Bar Association [1983] HCA 17; (1983) 151 CLR 288
8 April 2011

Chief Justice Statement of death of Judge Herbert Msimang

Press Statement




I wish to convey my deepest regret and the heartfelt condolences of the entire Judiciary to the family of Judge President Qedusizi Herbert Msimang and the people of South Africa, in particular the people of KwaZulu-Natal, on his untimely death.

Judge Msimang, the Judge President of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, died at the Midlands Medical Centre in Pietermaritzburg after a short illness. He is survived by his dear wife Nomusa, and four beloved daughters, Nokuthula, Sibongile, Sanelisiwe and Ayanda.

Judge Msimang was regarded within the judiciary and broader legal fraternity as a brave jurist with an incisive and independent mind. He had a distinguished career, both as an attorney and a Judge. He has served our nation with distinction.

The Judge President played a critical and crucial role in the transformation of South Africa’s Judiciary, the promotion and protection of human rights, peace and social justice.

His passing on is a big loss, not only to the Bench and the legal fraternity, but also to the people of South Africa. He was a proficient and conscientious Judge.

While we are greatly saddened by his sudden departure, we find solace in the good life he led and in the legacy bequeathed to all of us as a good friend, jurist, scholar, family man and citizen.

Born in 1951 in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg, Judge Msimang led a distinguished life, whose key milestones include the following:

  1. In 1970 he enrolled at the University of Zululand, where he graduated with a BJuris degree in 1973.
  2. He attended the Tulane University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where he completed a Master of Laws in 1975 and returned to South Africa.
  3. Judge Msimang took up a teaching post at the University of Zululand’s KwaDlangezwa campus, where he lectured in the Department of Private Law until 1978. During this time he completed his Bachelor of Laws through Unisa.
  4. During 1978 and 1979, he served as an advocate of the High Court of Lesotho in Maseru.
  5. In November 1979, he moved to Pretoria, where he served his articles at Dyason, Odendaal and Van Eeden.
  6. In November 1981, Judge Msimang was admitted as an attorney under the then Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa and set up his own law firm in Witbank in the then-Eastern Transvaal.
  7. From 1985 to 1995, he practiced as an attorney in Pietermaritzburg, during which time he also acted as a part-time director of the University of Zululand’s Legal Aid Clinic.
  8. In July 1998 he was appointed as an acting judge in the Natal Provincial Division of the High Court of South Africa, sitting on the Bench during parts of 2000 and 2001.
  9. He also served as an acting judge in the Cape Provincial Division from April to September 2001.

10.  In 2002 he was appointed a full-time judge. Since then he has presided over a variety of criminal and civil cases, both in Durban and Pietermaritzburg and the province’s western, southern and northeastern circuits.

11.  On 24 November 2009, he was appointed Deputy Judge President of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court.

12.  On 29 April 2010, Judge Msimang was appointed Judge President of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg and Durban until his death on Thursday, 7 April 2011.

Judge Msimang is also respected for his participation in community work, the following serving as examples:

  1. Member of the Panel of Examiners – Natal Law Society – Board of Examinations (1993-2001);
  2. Member of the Governing Council – Indumiso Teachers Training College (1997-2001);
  3. Commissioner – Small Claims Court (1996-2001);
  4. Non-Executive Director – Ithala Development Finance Corporation Ltd (1999-2001);
  5. Member of Grey’s Hospital Board – Pietermaritzburg (1999-2011);
  6. Legal Advisor – Maritzburg City Football Club (1999-2011);
  7. Chairman of the Board of Trustees: Umgeni Aids Centre, a non-governmental organisation (2000-2011); and
  8. He was appointed an IEC commissioner in 2006 on a part-time basis.

Judge Msimang’s untimely death therefore has created an irreparable vacuum in the country’s judiciary and society at large. Our thoughts and prayers are with Judge Msimang’s family during this difficult time. He was a friend, a colleague and one of the greatest jurists of our time. South Africa has lost a truly great man. We all mourn his death and extend our sympathies to his family. We pray to God to provide his family and colleagues with courage and strength to bear his loss.

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