This engaging, readable law book is timely for many reasons. In this period of political turmoil, amidst allegations of bare-faced large-scale grabbing by greedy politicians and their confederates, the principles and mechanisms of our Constitution become more acutely important than ever. Over the last quarter-century or so, through our courts’ judgments, delivered without fear or favour, the Constitution has begun to breathe life. Much challenge and much peril and much work still lie ahead.
But some of the vibrancy and influence the Constitution has already attained may be traced to the voices and personalities of those behind the judgments: the judges who write them. This book looks at the character and thinking of some of the judges who have helped to start the process of making our Constitution real. The text reminds us that behind the structures of state and the mechanisms of power stand human beings, in all their frailty, but also in all their courage and determination to make our country better for the poorest in it.
In other words, judges who take seriously the promise of constitutional governance and of social justice under law.
Narnia Bohler-Muller holds the degrees of BJuris LLB LLM (UPE) LLD (UP). Previously she was Professor of Law at Vista University and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) before joining the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) as research director of social sciences in February 2011. She joined the HSRC as Deputy Executive Director of the Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery research programme on 1 March 2012. She was then Executive Director of the Africa Institute of South Africa (incorporated into the HSRC in 2014). Currently she is Executive Director of the DGSD research programme and an adjunct Professor of the Nelson R Mandela School of Law at the University of Fort Hare. Prof Bohler-Muller has over 60 peer reviewed journal publications and book chapters, and has co-edited 3 books – on gender violence, human trafficking, and the dynamic of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). She is an admitted Advocate of the High Court of the Republic of South Africa and served as presiding officer for the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) in Port Elizabeth for 7 years. She has completed research consultancy work for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on HIV/AIDS, human rights and access to justice and for the Institute for Child Witness Research and Training on gender-based violence. She has completed research fellowships at Griffith University’s law faculty in Brisbane, Australia; Birkbeck School of Law in London, UK; and the BRICS Policy Centre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Prof Bohler-Muller has represented South Africa in multilateral fora such as BRICS and is leading the Blue Economy Core Group of IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) appointed by the Minister of Higher Education and the Minister of International Relations respectively. Her research interests include international and constitutional law, human rights, democracy, and social justice. Prof Bohler-Muller was appointed by the Minster of Health to be a member of the National Health Insurance working group tasked to implement the NHI Fund. Her largest project with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Constitutional Justice Project, has been positively received. In 2015 she was shortlisted as one of 14 candidates for the position of Public Protector.
Michael Cosser is a Chief Research Specialist in the Democracy, Governance & Service Delivery Research Programme (DGSD) at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), South Africa. He holds a PhD in Education (University of the Witwatersrand – Wits), a Master’s degree in English literature (Wits), and two Honours degrees – one in English literature and one in Applied Linguistics (both from Wits). Prior to joining DGSD he was Head of Learning & Development at the HSRC (2013-April 2016), before which he worked in the HSRC’s Education & Skills Development research programme (May 2001-2012), at the South African Qualifications Authority (1998-2000), and at Wits as a lecturer in English and in Academic Staff Development (1988-1997). His work at the HSRC has focussed predominantly on pathways through the education and training system and into the labour market. In 2010 he served on the Higher Education South Africa (HESA) task team to make recommendations on a reconceptualised post-school policy landscape for South Africa; in 2011 he was a member of the Ministerial Task Team to advise the Minister of Higher Education & Training on the establishment of Community Education and Training Centres; and in 2016 he was invited by the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education to make a submission on his student fees model. Dr Cosser has published 30 monographs, book chapters, and accredited journal articles, written 16 client reports, policy papers, and BRICS articles, and presented 11 papers at international conferences in the US, the UK and Europe in the fields of world literature written in English, academic staff development, higher education, and tracer studies.
Gary Pienaar is Research Manager in the HSRC’s Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery Research Programme. He holds BA (Hons) LLB degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand (1984 and 1989), practised as an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar (1991-1994), and obtained an M Phil in Values and Policy Studies from the University of Stellenbosch (2002). Before joining the HSRC in February 2013, he was a Senior Investigator in the Office of the Public Protector (1997- 2000), thereafter serving as the Public Protector’s Western Cape Provincial Representative (2000-2008). He was Senior Researcher: Governance and Public Ethics (2008-2012) at Idasa, after which he was Coordinator of the Money and Politics Project at the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (2012-2013). His research interests include constitutional and human rights law; political economy; democratic governance, ethics and integrity, transparency and accountability; political and public finance; democratic governance of energy; and international financial institutions. Recent research projects include the Twenty-year review of the Commission for Gender Equality; Constitutional jurisprudence project: Assessment of the impact of decisions of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal on the transformation of society – for the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development; Promoting a participatory approach to evidence-informed policymaking – for the Department of Environment Affairs; and South Africa country researcher for Global Integrity’s money, politics and transparency project. His most recent publication is: Calland, R & Pienaar, G ‘Guarding the guardians: South Africa’s chapter nine institutions’ in Plaatjies, D, Chitiga-Mabugu, M, Hongoro, C, Meyiwa, T, Nkondo, M & Nyamnjoh, F (eds) State of the nation South Africa 2016: Who is in charge? Mandates, accountability and contestations in the South African state (HSRC Press: Cape Town 2016).