President Ramaphosa appoints UFH Public Law Prof, Nomthandazo Ntlama to SA Electoral Court

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From playing international netball to the highest echelons of academia and now making big strides in the Judiciary.

Prof Nomthandazo Ntlama-Makhanya, Public Law Professor and Acting Head of the UNESCO Oliver Tambo Chair of Human Rights at UFH’s Nelson R Mandela School of Law, has been appointed as a Non-Judge Member of the South African Electoral Court.

Her appointment was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa after she was interviewed and recommended by the South African Judicial Services Commission (JSC). Her five-year term commenced on the 1st of January 2022.

The Electoral Court is a specialized court that oversees the Electoral Commission and the conduct of elections. It was established by the Electoral Commission Act, 1996  to replace a Special Electoral Court which oversaw the 1994 elections and has status similar to that of a division of the High Court.

The court consists of a Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal as chairman, two High Court judges, and two non-judge members. All members are appointed by the President on the advice of the JSC. 

According to Prof Ntlama-Makhanya, her role is to assist the Court in the delivery of its constitutional mandate and to dispense justice in line with the ideals of the new dispensation.

“The Court effectively seeks to translate the theory of law, which has been my experience in the academia, into real life and concrete situations in the resolution of disputes that are tabled before it.  Its particular role is to oversee the functioning of the Electoral Commission which has to translate the fulfillment of the right to vote to the general citizenry. The Court was established against South Africa’s history which limited the right to vote to White citizens to the exclusion of the general citizenry: Black people. My role, together with the other members is to bridge the gap and constitutionalise the interpretation of the said right to ensure the advancement of social change,” she explained.

In addition to being a well-accomplished Law academic and professional, Prof Ntlama-Makhanya who hails from the rural village of Qaqa outside Qonce (formerly known as King William’s Town) is also the first Black National Netball player in the Eastern Cape and one of the first four Black Players of Border Netball in 1994 after the integration of black and white federations.  The UFH alumna was recently appointed as the Chairperson of Netball South Africa’s (NSA) Disciplinary Committee of Appeals.

Upon receiving the news of her appointment to the Electoral Court, Prof Ntlama-Makhanya said she was overwhelmed with emotions. “The support of the nomination from various law bodies gave credence to the quality of the work I produced as an academic including the judgments I delivered whilst I served as Acting Judge of the Divisions of the High Court in Bhisho and Durban.  My appointment also assured me that there is progress in terms of transformation in judicial appointments which considers diversity to allow fresh perspective.”


Congratulations Prof Ntlama, UFH is proud of you.


By Aretha Linden