Bess Nkabinde: South Africa’s Former Acting Chief Justice Retires

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Constitutional Court justice Bess Nkabinde has retired following her 12 years of meritorious service as a judge in the highest court in the land.

According to an announcement by the court, Nkabinde will be retiring at the end of the year after the completion of the prescribed term.

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A special ceremony to mark her retirement took place at the Constitutional Court this morning. The event was graced by several law practitioners who praised the former acting Chief Justice Bess for her love and dedication to the legal profession.

Speaking during the event, spokesperson for the Judiciary, Nathi Mncube said: “Bess had an illustrious legal career, which has lasted for 12 years at the Constitutional Court. But it started well before then when she did a legal consultation at the University of Zululand and the University of North West.”

In appreciation, she thanked South Africans for giving her an opportunity to serve the country and the community of Mahikeng for supporting and nurturing her into the person she is today.

“I would like to thank my friends, family and colleagues for the support they have given me. I thank my children and husband for putting up with my absenteeism while I served the nation,” she said.



Nkabinde, who hails from the North West, obtained a BProc degree at the University of Zululand in 1983 and an LLB from the University of the North West in 1986.

According to the Constitutional Court, the former acting chief justice was admitted as an advocate in 1988 and after a pupillage in 1989 joined the North West Bar in 1990‚ where she practised as an advocate until 1999. She served as an acting judge of the high court in 1999‚ Bophuthatswana Provincial Division‚ and was subsequently appointed as a judge of that division of the High Court.

She went on to be an acting judge in the Labour Court in 2000 and 2003‚ the Labour Appeal Court from October 2004 to February 2005 and the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2005.

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Bess Nkabinde was appointed a judge in 2006. She was subsequently appointed acting deputy chief justice in 2016 following deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke’s retirement. She was the first woman to hold this position.