Narandran ‘Jody’ Kollapen, an Indian national, has been appointed to the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest judicial body.
After a lengthy process of public interviews, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the appointment of 64-year-old Kollapen and Rammaka Steven Mathopo to the Constitutional Court on Friday.
Kollapen and Mathopo were among the five applicants nominated to Ramaphosa for the two positions in October of this year.
Both will begin their terms on January 1, 2022.
Kollapen had previously been interviewed for a position on the Constitutional Court but had been rejected both times, despite serving two terms as an acting judge on the same court.
Kollapen and Mathopo, according to the Presidency, have distinguished careers in the legal profession and the judiciary.
Kollapen began his legal career in 1982, when he was appointed to the high court as a judge, focusing mostly on public interest cases. He joined Lawyers for Human Rights in 1993 and rose through the ranks to become the organization’s national director in 1995, a post he held until the end of 1996.
He became a commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission in 1997 and served as the commission’s chair for seven years, from 2002 to 2009. In April 2016, he was named chair of the South African Law Reform Commission.
Kollapen is a member of the Legal Resources Centre, the Foundation for Human Rights, and Laudium Care Services for the Aged, among other NGOs and community-based organisations.
He’s also spoken on human rights concerns all throughout the world, including at the United Nations and Harvard University.
He received honorary doctorates from Durban University of Technology and the Turquoise Harmony Institute for his contributions to society in the fields of law and human rights, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Congress of Business and Economics, which arose from the former Transvaal Indian Congress during Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to South Africa.
Kollapen made a forceful statement about culture and national identity as the main speaker at the 50th anniversary festivities of the religious organisation Siva Gnana Sabhay in Lenasia in 2010, while serving as an acting Constitutional Court judge.
Kollapen said there was no need to be ashamed of the unique Indian identity, culture, and religion brought to South Africa by the first indentured labourers 150 years ago, but that Indian-origin South Africans should use their heritage to help develop the rainbow nation as citizens of the country.
Kollapen’s mother was one of the ladies who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the apartheid-era government’s capital, to protest discriminatory laws in 1956. She was arrested and imprisoned twice for taking part in passive resistance demonstrations.
Kollapen frequently remembers his mother informing him that she was expecting him at the time.
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