Justice Edwin Cameron

Date of Birth

15 February 1953


BA Law cum laude, BA (Hons) cum laude (Stellenbosch University), BA (Hons) Jurisprudence (first class honours), BCL (first class honours) (University of Oxford), LLB cum laude (UNISA)

History at the Court:

Appointed: 1 January 2009

Retired: 20 August 2019

Brief biography

After completing his studies, Justice Cameron practised at the Johannesburg Bar from 1983 to 1994. From 1986 he practised as a human rights lawyer based at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), where, in 1989, he was awarded a personal professorship in law.

His practice centred around labour and employment law, as a result of which he took on cases involving the defence of ANC activists charged with treason, conscientious and religious objection, land tenure and forced removals as well as gay and lesbian equality.

From 1988 Justice Cameron advised the National Union of Mineworkers on AIDS/HIV, and helped to draft and negotiate the industry’s first comprehensive AIDS agreement with the Chamber of Mines.

While at CALS, he drafted the Charter of Rights on AIDS and HIV, co-founded the AIDS Consortium (a national affiliation of non-governmental organisations working in AIDS) which he chaired for its first three years in existence, and founded and was the first director of the AIDS Law Project.

Justice Cameron also oversaw the gay and lesbian movement’s submissions to the Kempton Park negotiating process. This, together with other work, helped secure the express inclusion of sexual orientation in the Constitution. In September 1994, he was awarded senior counsel status.

In October 1994, then President Mandela appointed him an acting judge, and later a judge, of the High Court.  It was after this appointment that Justice Cameron publicly announced his homosexuality and HIV status.  In 1999 and 2000 he served for a year as an acting judge of the Constitutional Court. In 2000 he was appointed a judge at the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Between 1998 and 2008 Justice Cameron chaired the Council of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Justice Cameron has co-authored a number of books including Defiant Desire – Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa (with Mark Gevisser) and Honoré’s South African Law of Trusts.

Justice Cameron is the general secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships in Southern Africa and a patron of the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal.

He has been awarded numerous awards over the years, including the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights (2000), Transnet’s HIV/AIDS Champions Award and the Brudner Prize from Yale University (2009-2010).

Selection of Judgments written