Supreme Court of Appeal
  • 10 other official names:
  • Hoogste Hof van Appèl (Afrikaans)
  • iKhotho ePhakemeko yezokuBuyekezwa (Southern Ndebele)
  • iNkundla ePhakamileyo yeziBheno (Xhosa)
  • Inkantolo ephakeme yokwedluliswa kwamacala (Zulu)
  • iNkantolo lePhakeme yekweNdlulisela emacala (Swazi)
  • Kgorokgolo ya Tsheko ya Boipiletšo (Northern Sotho)
  • Lekgotla le Phahameng la Boipiletso (Sotho)
  • Kgotlatshekelokgolo ya Boikuelo (Tswana)
  • Khotonkulu yo Endla Xikombelo (Tsonga)
  • Khothe Khulwane ya Khaṱhululo (Venda)
Building of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein
29°06′55″S 26°12′59″E / 29.1154°S 26.2163°E / -29.1154; 26.2163
Established1910 (Appellate Division)
JurisdictionSouth Africa
Coordinates29°06′55″S 26°12′59″E / 29.1154°S 26.2163°E / -29.1154; 26.2163
Composition methodPresidential appointment on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission
Authorized byChapter 8 of the Constitution; Superior Courts Act, 2013
Number of positions25
CurrentlyMahube Molemela
Since1 June 2023
Deputy President
CurrentlyXola Petse
Since21 June 2019

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), formerly known as the Appellate Division, is the second-highest court of appeal in South Africa below the Constitutional Court. The country's apex court from 1910 to 1994, it no longer holds that position, having been displaced in constitutional matters by the Constitutional Court in 1994, and in all matters by 2013. It is located in Bloemfontein. Bloemfontein is often, and has been traditionally referred to, as the "judicial capital" of South Africa because of the court, although the Constitutional Court is based in Johannesburg.[1][2]


On the creation of the Union of South Africa from four British colonies in 1910, the supreme courts of the colonies became provincial divisions of the new Supreme Court of South Africa, and the Appellate Division was created as a purely appellate court superior to the provincial divisions. It was the seat of some of the country's most outstanding judges including Innes CJ, Watermeyer CJ, Galgut JA, Wessels CJ and Schreiner JA.

In 1994 the Constitutional Court of South Africa was created with jurisdiction superior to the Appellate Division, but it could hear only in constitutional matters. The Appellate Division, therefore, remained the highest court in non-constitutional matters. In 1997 the Appellate Division became the Supreme Court of Appeal and was given constitutional jurisdiction, though the system of two apex courts remained: the Constitutional Court was the country's highest court in constitutional matters, but the SCA was the highest court in non-constitutional matters. However, the Constitutional Court took a broad reading of its jurisdiction, and in August 2013 the position was regularised by an amendment to the South African Constitution which gave the Constitutional Court general jurisdiction.

Current judges

The court is composed of a President, a Deputy President, and the number of ordinary Judges of Appeal determined in terms of an Act of Parliament; at present there are 23 ordinary positions on the court.[3] Cases before the court are generally heard by panels of five judges.

Judges are appointed by the President of South Africa on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission. Judges of Appeal are cited in judgments with the surname of the judge followed by "JA". (The President and Deputy President are cited with a "P" and "DP" respectively, and acting judges are cited with "AJA".)

As of January 2024, the Judges of Appeal were:[4]

List of presidents of the Supreme Court of Appeal

Presidents of the Supreme Court of Appeal
Incumbent Tenure Notes
1. J. J. F. Hefer 2002 – 2003 (Acting President)
2. C. T. Howie 2003 – 2008 (Judge of Appeal from 1993)
3. L. Mpati 2008 – 2016 (Judge of Appeal from 2000)
4. M. M. L. Maya 2016 – 2022 (Judge of Appeal from 2005)
5. X. M. Petse 2022 – 2023 (Acting President)
6. M. B. Molemela 2023 – present (Judge of Appeal from 2018)

List of deputy presidents of the Supreme Court of Appeal

Deputy presidents of the Supreme Court of Appeal
Incumbent Tenure Notes
1. L. Mpati 2003 – 2008 (subsequently President of the Court)
2. L. T. C. Harms 2008 – 2011 (Judge of Appeal from 1993)
3. K. K. Mthiyane 2012 – 2014 (Judge of Appeal from 2001)
4. M. S. Navsa 2015 – 2015 (Acting)
5. M. M. L. Maya 2015 – 2017 (subsequently President of the Court)
6. J. B. Z. Shongwe 2017 – 2018 (Acting)
7. X. M. Petse 2019 – present (Judge of Appeal from 2012)
8. N. Dambuza 2022 – 2023 (Acting)

List of judges of appeal

This is a list of all the judges who have served in the Supreme Court of Appeal since its inception in 1997.[6]

Appointments to the Appellate Division:

The following judges were appointed to the Appellate Division but continued to serve on the bench in the Supreme Court of Appeal after 1997.

Appointments by President Nelson Mandela:

Appointments by President Thabo Mbeki:

Appointments by President Kgalema Motlanthe:

Appointments by President Jacob Zuma:

Appointments by President Cyril Ramaphosa:

See also


  1. ^ Marais, Lochner; Twala, Chitja (7 May 2020). "Bloemfontein: the rise and fall of South Africa's judicial capital". African Geographical Review. 40 (1). Informa UK Limited: 49–62. doi:10.1080/19376812.2020.1760901. ISSN 1937-6812. S2CID 218929562.
  2. ^ "South Africa at a glance". South African Government. Retrieved 20 June 2020. Capitals...Bloemfontein (judicial)
  3. ^ "About us". Supreme Court of Appeal. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Current Judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal". Supreme Court of Appeal. Retrieved 20 January 2024.
  5. ^ "Cyril Ramaphosa announces appointment of five Supreme Court of Appeal judges | IOL News". Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  6. ^ "History". Supreme Court of Appeal. Retrieved 11 January 2024.