Justice Yvonne Mokgoro Biography: Age, Cause Of Death, Funeral, Accident, Husband, Daughter, Family, Education, Career, Net Worth

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro Biography

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro was a distinguished South African jurist who served on the Constitutional Court of South Africa from its inception in October 1994 until October 2009.

She was appointed to the bench by President Nelson Mandela and is remembered for her contributions to the legal field, particularly in the area of human rights. Justice Mokgoro also chaired the South African Law Reform Commission between 1995 and 2011.

Sadly, Justice Mokgoro passed away on May 9, 2024. Her life and work were celebrated at a special official funeral, which highlighted her towering legacy and the impact she had on the legal landscape of South Africa.

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro Age

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro passed away at the age of 73.

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro Early Life and Educational Background

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro was born on October 19, 1950, in Galeshewe, a township in Kimberley, South Africa and she was the first in her family to complete high school, matriculating from St. Boniface High School in 1970.

After high school, Yvonne Mokgoro held various jobs, including as a nursing assistant, a retail salesperson, and a clerk in the Bophuthatswana Department of Justice. Influenced by political activist Robert Sobukwe, she embarked on a legal education, enrolling part-time at the University of Bophuthatswana (now North-West University), where she completed a BJuris in 1982 and an LLB in 1984.

Mokgoro’s academic achievements did not stop there. Balancing her studies with full-time work and raising a family, she continued to excel in her legal education. She earned an LLM from the University of Bophuthatswana in 1987 and later pursued further studies abroad, obtaining another LLM from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1990.

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Justice Yvonne Mokgoro Career and Achievements

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro started her career at the Mmabatho Magistrate’s Court, where she served as a maintenance officer and public prosecutor while completing her LLB.

Upon receiving her LLB, Justice Mokgoro transitioned into academia, becoming a lecturer in the University of Bophuthatswana’s Department of Jurisprudence. Her passion for education and the law saw her rise through the ranks to associate professor by 1991. During this time, she also completed two LLM degrees, further solidifying her expertise and commitment to her field.

In 1992, Justice Mokgoro’s career took her to the University of the Western Cape, where she served as an associate professor in law. She also worked as a specialist human rights researcher for the Human Sciences Research Council’s Centre for Constitutional Analysis, and lectured part-time at the University of Pretoria.

Her most notable appointment came in 1994 when President Nelson Mandela selected her as one of the inaugural justices of the newly established Constitutional Court of South Africa. As the first black woman to serve on the court, she broke barriers and set a precedent for future generations. During her 15-year tenure, she made significant contributions to the development of South Africa’s constitutional jurisprudence, particularly in the areas of human rights and gender equality.

Beyond her role on the Constitutional Court, Justice Mokgoro was also deeply involved in legal reform. She chaired the South African Law Reform Commission from 1995 to 2011.

Even after her retirement from the bench in 2009, Justice Mokgoro continued to influence the legal field. She served on the benches of both Lesotho and Namibia, sharing her expertise and experience with a broader audience.

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro Notable Cases

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro presided over several notable cases during her tenure at the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Some of the key judgments she penned include:

  • Larbi-Odam v MEC for Education (North West Province): This case dealt with the rights of non-citizen teachers in South Africa to equal treatment in employment.
  • Jaftha v Schoeman; Van Rooyen v Stoltz: These cases addressed the issue of whether the sale in execution of homes to satisfy small debts was constitutional.
  • Khosa v Minister of Social Development: This landmark case extended social security benefits to permanent residents who were not South African citizens.
  • Geldenhuys v National Director of Public Prosecutions: This case considered the powers of the National Director of Public Prosecutions regarding asset forfeiture under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Additionally, Justice Mokgoro championed the notion of ubuntu in her first judgment, S v Makwanyane, which outlawed the death penalty in South Africa and frequently raised the relevance of African values in the development of South African Law. 

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro Cause Of Death and Funeral

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, a revered figure in South Africa’s legal history, passed away on May 9, 2024, at the age of 73. Her death was mourned by many across the nation and beyond, as she left behind a legacy of courage, determination, and humility. The cause of her death was linked to health setbacks following a serious car accident near Kimberley in April 2023.

Her funeral was held at the Bryanston Catholic Church in Johannesburg, reflecting the respect and admiration she garnered throughout her life. The service took place on May 23, 2024, and was attended by family, friends, colleagues, and dignitaries who came together to pay their respects to the esteemed justice.

Justice Mokgoro was honored with a special official funeral category 1, which is a significant recognition by the South African government. This category of funeral includes ceremonial elements conducted by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), signifying the high regard in which she was held. She was laid to rest at Fourways Memorial Park.

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro Husband and Children

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro was married to Tebogo Job Mokgoro, a South African politician and academic who served as the 6th Premier of North West. Together, they had a family of five children, with their daughter following in her mother’s footsteps in public service.

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