Justice Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob

Date of Birth

3 March 1948


BA (1969), LLB (1972) (University College, Durban – now University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus)

History at the Court:

Appointed: February 1998

Retired: 31 January 2013

Brief biography

Justice Yacoob served his pupillage in Durban in 1973. He was admitted as an advocate by the Natal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court on 12 March 1973, after which he practised as a junior counsel from July 1973 to May 1991.

He was the chairperson of the Durban Committee of Ten in 1980. Its aim was to alleviate the plight of pupils, ensure the release of those in detention and facilitate talks between pupils, students, parents and educational authorities.

As a member of the executive of the Durban Housing Action Committee from 1982 to 1985, he was involved in action aimed at ensuring that the Durban City Council managed its housing schemes fairly.

Justice Yacoob was also a member of a committee that rallied against the South African Indian Council. He belonged to the Democratic Lawyers Association from 1979 to 1984, was a member of the United Democratic Front’s Natal executive, where he was heavily involved in a campaign against the tri-cameral parliament from 1983 to 1985 and was a member of the underground structures of the ANC.

During his time as an advocate, he represented and advised many people prosecuted for contravening security laws, emergency measures and other oppressive legislation, victims of unfair evictions and people who were required to pay unfair tariffs, the “Durban Six” in negotiations with the British government when they occupied the British Consulate in Durban in 1984 in protest against apartheid and unjust laws and was part of a team that, from 1985 until 1988, defended officials and members of the United Democratic Front and its affiliates in the Delmas Treason Trial. He also represented the accused in the “Vula” trial, which involved high-ranking members of the African National Congress, in 1990 and 1991.

Justice Yacoob also ran a significant and diverse commercial and general legal practice. He served as a member of the Society of Advocates of Natal for several years and took silk in May 1991.

He was a member of the executive of the Natal Indian Congress from 1981 to 1991, in which capacity he organised and took part in protests, produced and distributed publicity material, and organised and addressed many anti-apartheid mass meetings.

Justice Yacoob served on the Independent Electoral Commission from December 1993 to June 1994 and was a member of the Panel of Independent Experts of the Constitutional Assembly.

Justice Yacoob has also advised local-government bodies, the National Land Committee and the Department of Finance.

Justice Yacoob has been heavily involved in the activities of the Natal Indian Blind and Deaf Society, and the South African National Council for the Blind. He has served on many school committees, parent-teacher bodies, ratepayers’ associations and civic organisations. He was the chairperson of the South African National Council for the Blind and was a member of its national management committee and its national executive committee from 2001 to 2009.

He was a member of the council of the University of Durban-Westville from 1989 to 1993 and from 1995 to1997. He was the chancellor of the university from May 2001 until 31 December 2003.

Justice Yacoob has attended dozens of international conferences and workshops on topics as varied as blindness, children and democracy.

In 2011, Justice Yacoob was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Selection of Judgments written