Ismail Mahomed

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Ismail Mahomed
Chief Justice of South Africa
In office
Preceded by Michael Corbett
Succeeded by Arthur Chaskalson
Personal details
Born (1931-07-25)25 July 1931
Pretoria, South Africa
Died 17 June 2000(2000-06-17) (aged 68)

Ismail Mahomed SCOB SC (5 July 1931 – 17 June 2000) was a South African lawyer who served as the Chief Justice of South Africa and the Supreme Court of Namibia,[1] and co-authored the constitution of Namibia.[1]

Early life

Mahomed was born in Pretoria; his parents were Indian merchants.[1] He graduated from Pretoria Indian Boys' High School in 1950.[2] He received his BA from University of the Witwatersrand in 1953 and the following year received his BA (Hons) with distinction in political science. He finished his Bachelor of Laws in 1957.[3]


Mahomed was refused admission to the Pretoria Bar Association, as it was reserved for white lawyers, but was able to join the Johannesburg Bar Association.[3] However, because of the Group Areas Act, he was banned from getting an office of his own, and was forced to practice out of his colleagues' offices while they were away.[1] In the 1960s he served as a lawyer in Botswana. Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.[3] In 1974 he became the first non-white in South African history to take silk.[3] In 1979 he was appointed to the appeal court of Swaziland and in 1982 was made an Appeal Judge in Lesotho, where he would later become president of the Appeals court.[3] He was made an English Barrister in 1984.[3] In 1991 he became the chair of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa[2][3] and the country's first non-white judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa.[2] He was later appointed to the Appeal Court.[2] He was made a judge of the Constitutional Court in 1995.[2] In 1996 he was made the Chief Justice of South Africa by President Nelson Mandela.[4]


Mahomed died of pancreatic cancer in Johannesburg on 17 June 2000, shortly after leaving the bench.[1] Sam Nujoma, the Namibian President at that time, spoke at his funeral.

Honours and awards

At the Supreme Court of Namibia there is a statue in his honour.[5] He was posthumously awarded the Order of the Baobab (Gold) in 2002.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 CAUVIN, HENRI E (19 June 2000). "Ismail Mahomed, 68; Led Post-Apartheid Court". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Justice Ismail Mahomed". Archived from the original on 26 March 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2008. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "Justice Ismail Mahomed". Retrieved 31 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Mandela appoints Ismail Mahomed Chief Justice". bnet. 1996. Retrieved 31 August 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Mashuna, Timoteus (5 October 2012). "Ismail Mahomed: 'The Leading Jurist' (1931–2000)". New Era.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Legal offices
Preceded by
Michael Corbett
Chief Justice of South Africa
Succeeded by
Arthur Chaskalson