(13 January 1934 – 25 May 2024)

Justice Laurie Ackermann was born in Pretoria on 13 January 1934. Both his parents were Afrikaans – he was named after the Boer hero, Louw Wepener – one of his grandparents having as a child survived a concentration camp. Raised in a Pretoria professional family, he graduated from Stellenbosch and Oxford...
FUL pays tribute to Justice Yvonne Mokgoro
19 October 1950 - 9 May 2024

Those appointed to South Africa’s first Constitutional Court in October 1994 faced huge challenges. Among them was the need to persuade the new Cabinet and Parliament to take them and their orders seriously, as the ultimate interpreter and guardian of the Constitution...
Commissions, Corruption and State Capture
by Judith February and Sanan Mirzoyev
(kindly supported by the Bradlow Foundation and published by SAIIA)

South Africa’s fledgling democracy has seen its fair share of commissions over a period of nearly three decades. At the outset, they were used as an instrument in society’s attempts to come to grips with the realities and horrors of its apartheid past through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)....
Serving the Judiciary?
The South African Judicial Service Commission 2009-2022
Is the performance of the JSC up to scratch? FUL has examined the JSC’s roles in appointing and disciplining judges and produced this report. It has also submitted to the JSC a number of recommendations for the future. The report was launched virtually on 29 November 2022 — here is a video of the launch.
South Africa’s Constitutional Court at 30
A solid foundation but cracks are showing

South Africa’s Constitutional Court stands out as one of the few government institutions that have protected and advanced the constitutional vision of a participatory democracy and social justice. Many other government institutions which ought to have allied themselves with the court have been weakened or have failed to deliver.
Reflecting on the 6th Parliament
by Judith February

As part of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group review of the 6th Parliament, which can be found here: Click here

Commencing on 22 May 2019, South Africa’s sixth democratically elected Parliament (the Sixth Parliament) looked to represent a new dawn for the country, ushering in a period of parliamentary reform, accountability and efficacy in the wake of the institutional devastation wrought by years of rampant state capture.
Sydney Kentridge 100
A member of FUL’s International Advisory Board On 5 November 2022 Freedom Under Law had the privilege and singular pleasure of congratulating its oldest office-bearer on the occasion of his one-hundredth birthday. Until his retirement from active practice ten years ago, Sir Sydney Kentridge KCMG KC was undoubtedly the foremost advocate in the English-speaking world.
FUL welcomes suspension of Judge Hlophe
Freedom Under Law welcomes the decision by the President yesterday to suspend the Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, Judge MJ Hlophe, in terms of section 177 (3) of the Constitution.
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Freedom Under Law (FUL) notes the National Assembly’s decision to designate Dr MJ Hlophe as one of the representatives of the National Assembly on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). To have a situation where an individual who was found to have committed gross misconduct and was removed from judicial office, is now in a position to decide on the suitability of other candidates for judicial appointment is wholly inappropriate, irrational, and in our view, susceptible to legal challenge. It is also hard to reconcile the contradictory position of political parties which voted for Dr Hlophe to be removed from judicial office but now voted in

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Commissions, Corruption and State Capture: Charting the Way Forward for South Africa

by Judith February and Sanan Mirzoyev (kindly supported by the Bradlow Foundation and published by SAIIA) South Africa’s fledgling democracy has seen its fair share of commissions over a period of nearly three decades. At the outset, they were used as an instrument in society’s attempts to come to grips with the realities and horrors of its apartheid past through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). However, addressing apartheid’s legacy of unparalleled social and political exclusion and marginalisation has proven to be a far more arduous and perilous journey. The historical legacy of racialised marginalisation and exclusion has been compounded by inappropriate policy, poor governance,

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FREEDOM UNDER LAW FILES COURT PAPERS TO CHALLENGE JSC APPOINTMENT DECISIONS Freedom Under Law (FUL) has filed papers in the Gauteng Division of the High Court, Pretoria, challenging the JSC’s decisions in filling vacancies on the Supreme Court of Appeal at its sitting in October 2023. The JSC recommended the appointment of only two candidates for four vacancies, leaving the remaining two vacancies open. The legal challenge comprises two parts. In part A, FUL asks that the JSC be ordered to determine whether the remaining candidates are fit for appointment, and if so to fill the two remaining vacancies on the SCA. FUL is asking

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Timeline of Judge Hlophe’s Removal

DOWNLOAD THE PDF VERSION NOVEMBER 2004 Oasis Crescent Property Fund sues Judge Desai for alleged defamation. It comes to light that Judge Hlophe had been receiving regular monthly payments from Oasis at the time that he authorised the defamation action. Judge Hlophe initially denies receiving the payments before changing tack and insisting that they were reimbursements for ‘travelling expenses’. Either way, the payments fell foul of Judge Hlophe’s statutory and ethical duties not to receive such payments without the prior approval of the Minister of Justice. FEBRUARY 2005 Judge Hlophe submits a report on alleged racist practices within the Western Cape legal community, directly to

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Timeline of Judge Motata’s Removal

DOWNLOAD THE PDF VERSION JANUARY 2007 Judge Motata drives into a residential wall whilst intoxicated and is subsequently involved in a verbal confrontation with the property owner. Judge Motata uses racial slurs, profanities and language of a derogatory nature, all of which is recorded by the owner. The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace files a complaint against Judge Motata alleging that his conduct brought disgrace upon him and the judiciary and undermined public respect. JULY 2008 Afriforum lodges complaint against Judge Motata alleging that he has committed gross racist misconduct and should therefore be impeached in terms of section 177 of the Constitution. SEPTEMBER

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Promoting Democracy Under Law

• Advancing understanding of and respect for the Rule of Law •  Litigating in relation to institutional conduct in conflict with the Rule of Law • Strengthening the independence of the judiciary •  Supporting the legal profession in serving the courts • Enhancing understanding between legal role-players, the media and society at large • Furthering legal education appropriate to the needs of constitutional democracy • Protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the media concerning the administration of justice.

Our mission

FUL’s objectives are the promotion of democracy and the advancement of the Rule of Law and the principle of legality, understanding these to be the foundation for constitutional democracy in South Africa.

How we work

Litigation before the courts

Primarily, FUL uses litigation before the courts as its defining method of promoting and defending the Rule of Law and democracy in South Africa. The composition of its board affords it particular expertise and experience in this area.

Non-profit company

FUL is registered as a non-profit company and a public benefit organisation.

NO. 2008 000 384 08

NO. 930031764

Address threats to the Rule of Law

Recognising the importance of the criminal justice system to the Rule of Law and the realisation of any number of rights, FUL has since its inception sought to make this a particular focus area, although it directs its efforts wherever it believes it may effectively address threats to the Rule of Law.

Trial observation

However, litigation is not the only distinguishing feature of Freedom Under Law's approach. FUL also undertakes trial observation across the region and seeks to coordinate informed debate of topical regional legal issues.

Board of Directors

Elize Angula

Elize Angula is a director of AngulaCo Incorporated based in Windhoek, Namibia. She is a seasoned litigator, conveyancer, mediator and


Ezra Davids

Ezra Davids, an alumnus of the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Harvard Law School Executive Programme, is Chairman and


Beatrice Mtetwa

Beatrice Mtetwa is a Zimbabwe-based lawyer who graduated from the then University of Botswana and Swaziland with an LLB degree


Upcoming Events

Ongoing Cases

Concluded Cases

Richard Mdluli

In September 2020, Richard Mdluli, former head of Crime Intelligence in the SAPS, was sentenced in the High Court, Johannesburg to an effective five years

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Serving the Judiciary?

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Service Providers

Freedom Under Law expresses its gratitude for the fully pro bono or subsidised professional expertise and time of these agencies. We would not be able to function without this invaluable support.