An advocate for change

FAR from his ambitions of being a truck driver when he grew up, advocate Mbuyiseli Madlanga has turned out to be one of the best legal minds in the country and was recently appointed to the Constitutional Court bench.

HIGHER HONOURS: Advocate Mbuyiseli Madlanga, originally of Mount Frere, has been appointed to the Constitutional Court bench Picture: TSHEKO KABASIA

Madlanga was born in the village of Njijini in Mount Frere in 1962 as one of six children.
Like many black families, there were lots of relatives: “We totalled about 20 at any given time. Despite the many other children they looked after, my parents did their best to give us a relatively comfortable life,” said Madlanga.
“They instilled in us good values and our father was a strict disciplinarian.

“I don’t remember having any aspirations as a little boy. I must say, though, that I was quite fascinated by huge, articulated trucks and I could tell them apart by their sounds even when I couldn’t see them: the Oshkosh, International Paystar, Mack and Mercedes-Benz.”

Madlanga has had an illustrious career and after graduating cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, US, he moved on to greater things.
He was a judge in Mthatha when he was appointed acting judge to the Supreme Court of Appeals. Later, while acting judge president in Mthatha, he was appointed to the Competition Appeal Court and was also appointed to the Con stitutional Court as acting judge between 2000 and 2001. He told Saturday Dispatch he was driven by his passion for the law and solving people’s problems. Asked if he had ever dreamt of presiding at the Constitutional Court he said: “Only after I had been invited to act there by the late Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson. Before that, that court seemed like an unreachable planet to me.”
The chairman of the Society of Advocates of Transkei, advocate Vusimzi Msiwa, described the decision to appoint Madlanga as “spot on”.

“During this era we need judges who are sensitive to the constitutional imperative. He has no vocabulary of complacency, obsession or obstinacy because he has the prowess to defeat his opponent or outwit the mediocre ones.”

Madlanga said transformation in the judiciary was imperative.