Justice Tholie Madala

Date of Birth

13 July 1937


25 August 2010


BA (Fort Hare University) UED (SA) diploma, LLB (1974) (University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg)

History at the Court:

Appointed: October 1994

Retired: October 2008

Brief biography

Until 1980 Justice Madala lectured at the University of Transkei. Subsequently he practised as an attorney, chairing the Transkei Attorneys’ Association, and was admitted as an advocate in 1982. In his legal practice Justice Madala handled many human rights cases, and he and other lawyers interested in the protection of the rights of the underprivileged established the Umtata Law Clinic under the auspices of the Umtata and Districts Lawyers’ Association.

From 1987 to 1990 he served as vice-chairperson of the Society of Advocates of Transkei and as chairperson from 1991 to 1993, representing the society on the General Council of the Bar. Justice Madala took silk in 1993 and was elevated to the Bench in 1994, becoming the first black judge in the Eastern Cape and the fourth black judge in South Africa.

In 1995 the Legal Education Centre of the Black Lawyers Association presented him with an award in recognition of his contribution in the area of human rights, and in April 1999 his alma mater, the University of Natal, awarded him an honorary LLD.

Justice Madala was a founder member and director of the Prisoners’ Welfare Programmes, an association established in 1985 to provide legal, financial and educational assistance to political detainees, prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families.

For varying periods, Justice Madala served on the council of the University of Transkei and on the board of that university’s Law Faculty. In addition, he served on the Transkeian Medical Council and was a founder member of the board of the Thembelitsha Centre for the Rehabilitation of Drug Dependents.

On his appointment to the Bench, Justice Madala stepped down as deputy chairperson of the Transkei National Building Society.

Over many years he participated in a range of seminars and conferences and delivered papers on constitutional and human rights issues in South Africa, Cyprus, France, Ireland, Malawi, Swaziland and the United States.

Until his death on 25 August 2010, Justice Madala remained a member of the Black Lawyers Association, serving as a trustee of its Legal Education Centre. He was also the chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of St John and Deputy Chancellor of the Church of the Province of South Africa.

Selection of Judgments written