Judge Pres­i­dent hangs up his robe

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RE­TIRED: Judge Pres­i­dent Pule Tlaletsi bids farewell to his pre­de­ces­sor, Frans Kgomo, who served as a judge in the North­ern Cape for nearly two decades. COURT ad­journed for the fi­nal time for North­ern Cape Judge Pres­i­dent Frans Kgomo on Fri­day, who of­fi­cially re­tired af­ter nearly two decades on the bench in the Prov­ince.

De­spite his phys­i­cal ab­sence from the court­room, Kgomo’s con­tri­bu­tion to the Prov­ince, coun­try and ju­di­cial sys­tem in gen­eral will con­tinue to make a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the lives of most South Africans as there are few courts in the coun­try where he has not had a hand in the men­tor­ing of pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers.

This is ac­cord­ing to the 16th North­ern Cape High Court Judge Pres­i­dent, Pule Tlaletsi, who took over the po­si­tion last week and said on Fri­day that, of his pre­de­ces­sor’s many achieve­ments, his most en­dur­ing legacy would be the struc­tures Kgomo put in place to nur­ture and train judges.

“His mis­sion has al­ways been the trans­for­ma­tion of the le­gal and ju­di­ciary struc­tures,” the in­cum­bent judge pres­i­dent said in the North­ern Cape High Court on Fri­day, adding that Kgomo had es­tab­lished a “uni­ver­sity for judges” in Kim­ber­ley.

“He used this court to men­tor and train judges. As a re­sult, all pro­vin­cial courts have been im­pacted.”

Tlaletsi said that the fact that more than two thirds of the judges that Kgomo had taken un­der his wing were women, was a fur­ther in­di­ca­tion of his com­mit­ment to trans­for­ma­tion.

“We are standing on the shoul­ders of a gi­ant who never flinched and served with hon­our,” added Tlaletsi.

Kgomo who was born in Brits and moved through the ranks of the ju­di­ciary af­ter be­com­ing a court in­ter­preter in 1969.

An avid death penalty abo­li­tion­ist, he was ad­mit­ted to the the North West Bar from 1986 to 1998 be­fore mov­ing to Kim­ber­ley to serve as an act­ing judge.

Af­ter only three years on the bench in the North­ern Cape, Kgomo was ap­pointed Judge Pres­i­dent of the Prov­ince in 2001.

“I’m leav­ing this di­vi­sion in good hands,” Kgomo told his fam­ily, friends and col­leagues shortly be­fore court ad­journed on Fri­day.

“I was hes­i­tant to come to Kim­ber­ley at first. As they say, you cry when you first ar­rive but later you cry be­cause you have to leave.”

“I would also like to thank my fam­ily and staff for all their sup­port.”

Pic­ture: So­raya Crowie

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