Transformation and the Independence of the Judiciary in South Africa

This paper is intended to provide a perspective on questions related to the independence of the judiciary in present-day South Africa. While South Africa is no longer in the heart of its political transition, the legacy of apartheid rule is still strongly felt and post-apartheid “transformation” continues to be a central concern of government and society more broadly. But how does judicial independence relate to transformation? Rather than conceiving of it as a separate issue, this paper departs from the point of view that the consolidation of judicial independence is a key dimension of the process of judicial transformation in South Africa. If this is so, the question arises as to whether there may be tensions between independence and other key elements of transformation, including the creation of a judiciary that is representative of the people and that is dedicated to protecting and promoting South Africa‚Äôs constitutional values, fostering an atmosphere of judicial accountability, and improving the efficiency and appropriateness of the justice system to ensure access to justice for all people.