History and Background


Jurisdiction of the court pic

The Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa is the successor to the Appellate Division, which was first established in 1910 when the Union of South Africa was established. The name of the Court was changed by the Constitution of 1996.


The Supreme Court of Appeal is, except in respect of certain labour and competition matters, the second highest court in South Africa.  Previously it and the Constitutional Court were both ‘apex courts’ with different areas of jurisdiction. However, since August 2013 the Constitutional Court has been the highest court in all matters.


In terms of the Constitution, the Court functions only as a court of appeal, though it may decide (with the exception of certain labour and competition matters) any matter on appeal.  The Court is presided over by a President of the Court, assisted by a Deputy President. Formerly, the most senior judge of the Court was the Chief Justice of the country. However the title of Chief Justice is now held by the head of the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. There are at present 23 permanently filled judicial positions in the Court, in addition to the President and the Deputy President.


The legal system


            The common law and statutes

South African law is a ‘mixed legal system’, an amalgam of different legal systems, with its origins derived from both the Continent and in Great Britain.  The foundation of South African law is Roman-Dutch law, which is itself a blend of indigenous Dutch customary law and Roman law. It was this legal system that prevailed in Holland during the 17th and 18th centuries and was introduced into and applied in South Africa after the southernmost tip of the Cape was settled by the Dutch in 1653.


When, at the end of the 18th century, the Cape was occupied by the British, Roman-Dutch law was retained as the common law of the country.  English, however, became the language of the courts and English legal procedures and the English law of evidence in both criminal and civil matters were introduced. The influence of English private and public law also soon became apparent, often simply because its sources were more readily available to practitioners than the Latin and High Dutch of the Roman-Dutch old authorities.  Occasionally it is still necessary for a modern judge to delve into these old authorities to search for the origin and scope of an otherwise obscure legal rule or doctrine.


South African law in general, comprises ‘common law’ and statutory law.  South Africa’s common law is composed of the foundational Roman-Dutch legal principles as modified and interpreted by judicial precedent.  The decisions of this Court are binding on all lower courts. And in turn, this Court is bound by decisions of the Constitutional Court. In addition, this Court considers itself bound by its own decisions unless convinced that an earlier decision on the point in issue is patently wrong. Judicial decisions are thus themselves a source of law.


South Africa’s statutory law, as with any other common law country, has augmented the common law and many of the cases before the Court are now concerned with their interpretation and application.


Because of the unique heritage of South African law, and the constitutional imperative to have regard to comparative law, foreign law is frequently consulted, not as binding but as persuasive authority.


 And overarching this legal framework is the Constitution, against which all law must be measured for consistency, and which exerts a powerful influence over the development of the law.


            Customary law
Indigenous or customary law denotes those legal systems originating from African societies as part of the culture of particular tribes.  In some matters persons can claim to be judged by their tribal law and custom, provided that these are consonant with the Constitution. This applies mainly to customary marriages, succession, guardianship and land tenure.


            International Law
Any international agreement becomes law in the Republic when it is enacted into law by national legislation. Customary international law is law in the Republic unless it is inconsistent with the Constitution or an Act of Parliament. When interpreting any legislation, every court must prefer any reasonable interpretation of the legislation that is consistent with international law over any alternative interpretation that is inconsistent with international law.


One hundred years of history

From the time it was established in 1910 until 1950, when the Privy Council Appeals Act 16 of 1950 came into force, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa was an intermediate court of appeal from decisions of the various South African courts. This was because the highest court of appeal for South Africa during that period was the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, sitting in London. Before the Appellate Division was established, appeals went straight to the Privy Council from decisions of the supreme courts of the Cape, the Transvaal and Natal, while decisions of the superior courts in the Eastern Cape and Griqualand West had first to be taken on appeal to the Cape Supreme Court and those from the Orange River Colony (as the Free State was then called) had first to go to the Transvaal Supreme Court before further appeals were possible to the Privy Council. Because South Africa applied English constitutional law and the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy, the Court was not authorised to decide on the constitutionality of Acts of Parliament, nor could it prevent the lawgiver from impinging upon human rights.


The Appellate Division was for limited periods also the highest court of appeal for the erstwhile Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South West Africa (now Namibia). It temporarily lost jurisdiction over parts of the country when independent areas such as Transkei chose to create their own final court of appeal. With the reunification of the country in 1994 it regained its authority over those areas.


The need for an intermediate court of appeal to hear appeals from the various South African courts was felt as early as 1905 when a conference of attorneys-general held at Bloemfontein proposed that a South African court be set up. During the November 1908 session of the National Convention, which was held in Cape Town, the constitution of a supreme court was discussed. It adopted the proposal that the Court be set up and should consist of a chief justice and two ordinary (fulltime) judges of appeal and two additional (part-time) judges of appeal who were members of one of the provincial divisions.


The first Chief Justice was Sir Henry de Villiers, who was made a baron and accordingly became Lord De Villiers, and who had been the chief justice of the Cape since 1873. The ordinary judges of appeal were Sir James Rose Innes and Sir William Solomon, and the additional judges of appeal were the newly appointed Judges President of the Cape and Transvaal Provincial Divisions, Christian George Maasdorp and Jacob Abraham Jeremy (Jaap) de Villiers.


Provision was made in the South Africa Act 1909 for the seat of the Court to be in Bloemfontein but that, for the ‘convenience of suitors’, sittings could be held at other places in the Union. Lord De Villers made no secret of the fact that he disliked the selection of Bloemfontein as the judicial capital, and Sir James Rose Innes also thought it unfortunate for two reasons. First, it increased the difficulty of staffing the Court and, secondly, it increased the cost of litigation.


During 1910 the Appellate Division was ‘nomadic’, making a circuit of the provincial capitals but doing most of its work in Cape Town, where Lord De Villiers thought the seat of the Court ought to be. In 1911 the Court sat twice during short sessions in Bloemfontein but did the rest of its work in Cape Town. This was repeated in 1912. The Free Staters were incensed and this led to a clause being inserted in the Administration of Justice Act 27 of 1912 providing that applications for a change of venue for the hearing of an appeal should be heard only in Bloemfontein and that the hearing of an appeal elsewhere than at Bloemfontein would not be deemed to be for the convenience of any suitor unless exceptional circumstances existed. However, Lord De Villiers managed to ensure that a provision was added to the effect that while he was Chief Justice applications for a change of venue could be heard in any place in the Union.


The Appellate Division Act 12 of 1920 increased the number of (ordinary) judges of appeal from two to four and the posts of additional judges of appeal were done away with, the two additional judges of appeal, Jaap de Villiers and Sir Henry Juta, becoming fulltime judges of appeal. This was the position until 1948 when legislation was passed empowering the Governor-General to appoint as many judges of appeal as deemed necessary. The number was duly raised to six to enable the Court to handle the increase in workload which was expected following the extension of its powers in relation to criminal appeals, as it was now permitted to hear appeals on fact, and not just on legal grounds. In 1923, on the retirement of Sir Henry Juta, Sir John Wessels was appointed in his place, and the members of the Court at that stage, Innes CJ, Solomon, J de Villiers, Kotzé and Wessels JJA have been referred to as ‘the five most qualified experts in Roman-Dutch law in South Africa’ at the time.


In 1929 the Court moved from the building behind the Raadsaal – a building used by the legislative council in the Orange River Colony from 1907 to 1910 and in which the Court sat from 1910. The new building in President Brand Street was opened on 10 October 1929 by the Minister of Justice, Oswald Pirow KC. When the ceremony was over Pirow was presented with the gold key with which he had opened the door of the new Court building. In his book of reminiscences, Brushes with the Law, Marius Diemont, then a youth present on the day of the opening of the Court building, recounts that years later, when appearing as junior counsel with Pirow, the two went to the Court to use the library but found the door locked. Pirow, unphased, said: ‘I opened this building 20 years ago when I was Minister of Justice. Here is my name on the cornerstone and the key on my watch chain is the key they gave me.’ But the lock had been changed and the key did not open the door.


In 1933, the judges gave a decision permitting an appeal from what was then Southern Rhodesia to be heard in Cape Town – and not in Bloemfontein. The appeal was expected to be lengthy. The appellant argued that Graham Mackeurtan KC, lead counsel, who was not a well man, would not survive the ‘hot summer months of December, January and February’. In the judgment granting the application these months were referred to as ‘the hottest and most trying months of the year’ and as ‘a time when the inured inhabitants find it necessary, if their circumstances permit, to seek relief by a vacation at the coast’. It went on to note that the Orange Free State Provincial Division had arranged its terms in such a way as to avoid sitting during those months when the climate was ‘trying’. The Free Staters were very proud of Bloemfontein’s status as the judicial capital and were strongly opposed to any decision which took Court sittings away from the city. The decision to hear the matter in Cape Town was strongly condemned by the City Council, the local Chamber of Commerce and the local Bar Council. The Friend, a daily newspaper published in Bloemfontein, printed an anonymous letter, written in fact by the incumbent Judge President of the Free State, Fritz Krause. It included the following: ‘As an old Bloemfonteiner I wish to register my protest, with so many others of my townsmen, against the extraordinary and absurd decision of the Appeal Court to change the venue of a trial to Cape Town on the ground of the climatic conditions alleged to prevail here during the summer months. . . If there are judges who do not like to reside or sojourn here, well, let them hand in their resignations. There are as many good fish in the sea as come out of it . . . .The health reasons relied on by the court are, in my opinion, as flimsy as a curtain of gossamer.’


T W Mackenzie, the editor of The Friend, was cited to appear before the Court to show cause why he should not be committed for contempt of court for publishing the letter. He originally said he did not appreciate the true meaning of the letter. In the judgment the Court said that it found it ‘. . . extremely difficult to accept Mr Mackenzie’s explanation that he did not realise the import of a letter, which he now admits he does understand, and which indeed is not difficult to interpret.’ He went on to say that Mackenzie ‘. . . ought to have appreciated the import of the letter. The Court will, however, give him the benefit of any doubt it may have and assume that the penitence he now expresses is sincere. We cannot, however, in consonance with our duty to uphold the dignity of this Court treat the matter lightly.’ Mackenzie was ordered to publish an agreed apology and pay a fine of fifty pounds.


However, regardless of judicial resistance, the Appeal Court building was in Bloemfontein and this signified that the Union Government had set its final seal of approval on the legislature having made Bloemfontein the judicial capital of the Union as expressed in the South Africa Act.


Twenty judges served on the Court during the period 1910 – 1948. Most of them can be regarded as jurists of eminence who wrote judgments that clarified the law, influenced its development and are still cited today. They exerted an enormous influence on the foundational principles of the South African legal system. However, they were never involved in direct confrontations with the executive as happened in the years to come – especially in the 1950s, and with the constitutional crisis discussed below.


In 1950 the Court became the final court of appeal when appeals to the British Privy Council were abolished. In 1952 the Court was faced with its first major test when the validity of the Separate Representation of Voters Act was challenged. The Voters Act was enacted to provide for the removal of the coloured voters in the Cape Province from the common voters role. In Harris v Minister of the Interior the Court held that even though Parliament was supreme and sovereign, this did not mean that Parliament was free to adopt any procedure when a new law was enacted. The rights of the coloured voters had been entrenched by the South Africa Act and for Parliament to amend or infringe this right the legislation needed to be passed by a two-thirds majority of both houses of Parliament in a joint session. As this was not the procedure followed for the enactment of the Voters Act, the legislation fell to be set aside. As the Court was now the court of final appeal, Parliament responded by passing legislation creating a new ‘court’ – the ‘High Court of Parliament’, consisting of all members of Parliament - for the sole purpose of reviewing the judgments of the Appellate Division in which legislation was declared invalid. This Act was soon also declared invalid by this Court. Left with no other choice, Parliament was forced to enlarge the Senate in order to attain the required majority in a joint sitting.  However, prior to this, legislation was passed providing that the validity of legislation could be decided only by a court of eleven judges. Five additional judges of appeal were appointed and the Senate was subsequently enlarged.

This ensured that the Voters Act was eventually passed with the requisite majority. And the ‘enlarged’ Court five years later refused to declare the Act invalid and so the coloured voters were removed from the common voters’ role in the Cape Province. This has become known as ‘the constitutional crisis’ of the 1950s. It served to tarnish both the government’s and the Court’s image, especially as there was a perception that the government had loaded the Bench with supporters.


During the 1960s and 1970s the Court was to a considerable extent involved in hearing appeals relating to the review of executive and administrative functions and criminal prosecutions under the race and security laws. The outcome of many cases depended upon the interpretation of these laws and the Court was often criticized for deliberately preferring an interpretation favouring the State in cases where a more equitable construction was available.


However, although such criticisms are clearly legitimate and this area of law has been remarkably changed in the Constitutional era, this is not the only work that the Court engaged in, and its involvement in political litigation did not keep it from producing an impressive body of law in almost every other field of social and commercial activity. In many cases this required tedious excursions into unexplored areas of the common law, the re-examination, extension, adaptation or abrogation of old principles in accordance with the needs of a changing society, and the meticulous examination of the relevant case law and legislation. The remarkable skill with which they handled the Roman and Roman-Dutch authorities and navigated their way through English law and other legal systems is a feature of many judgments of the time. To this day the courts, including the Constitutional Court, constantly build on foundations the Appellate Division laid during that period.


Since the advent of democracy, the job of the judiciary has been to oversee the country’s transition to democracy, while undergoing transformation itself. Unavoidably, this dual responsibility has generated tension – but much of this has been creative and constructive. In 1994, all but three judges were white. There were only two women on the Bench, none of whom were black. Today, the two highest courts, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal, are both black-led, black-majority courts. The Supreme Court of Appeal has a significant number of women on the Bench.


The South African judiciary now has an explicitly ‘political’ role. It must enunciate and enforce the values of the Constitution; it must adjudicate difficult questions about the common good, many involving the clashing of fundamental human rights; and, perhaps most difficult of all, it must realise the country’s new values in its own institutions. To do so successfully, the judiciary must itself embody South Africa’s new liberal egalitarian political culture. And it must also be capable of resisting pressures to depart from our Constitution’s founding values. This requires strong-minded independence.


The creation of the Constitutional Court was the 1993 Interim Constitution’s only substantial change to the structure of the judiciary. The existing Supreme Court structure, with the Appellate Division at its head, was retained. Before the 1996 Constitution, the Constitutional Court and the Appellate Division formed the twin peaks of the judicial structure, with a strict jurisdictional line dividing them. The Constitutional Court was vested with exclusive jurisdiction over constitutional matters and the power to strike down legislation or executive conduct. The Appellate Division continued to be a final court of appeal in all criminal and civil matters, but had no jurisdiction over constitutional issues. As there is no neat line which neatly divides constitutional and ‘other’ matters, this structure was clearly problematic.


Under the 1996 Constitution, the Supreme Court of Appeal acquired constitutional jurisdiction, while the Constitutional Court was given jurisdiction to develop the common law to reflect constitutional values. The Appellate Division became the Supreme Court of Appeal which, together with the High Courts, was given power to strike down Presidential conduct, Acts of Parliament and provincial Acts, although subject to confirmation by the Constitutional Court. The Court has also been called upon, when interpreting legislation or developing the common law, to promote the spirit, purport and objects of the Bill of Rights. This ushered in a radical new era of constitutional adjudication.


However, there remained a degree of uncertainty as the split jurisdiction model survived to some extent in the form of twin apex courts – with the Constitutional Court being the apex court in respect of all constitutional matters, and the Supreme Court of Appeal being the apex court in respect of all non-constitutional matters.  The absence of a neat division between constitutional and non-constitutional issues, which had bedevilled the courts since 1994, continued to cause confusion: which court was truly the apex court in any particular matter?  It soon became apparent that the extensive array of rights and guarantees under the Constitution, combined with the Constitutional Court’s ambitious and purposive interpretative approach, had the result that very nearly every case could be characterised as constitutional in nature.  And as it was the Constitutional Court that had the power to determine whether a matter was constitutional, the reality was that, except in limited circumstances, that court was the de facto apex court.  As from August 2013, in terms of the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act, the Constitution was amended and the Constitutional Court is now expressly recognised as the highest court in South Africa, though it may only hear constitutional matters and matters which raise an arguable point of law of general public importance.


At the same time as the Constitutional Amendment came into force, the legislation governing the structure of the courts (the Supreme Court Act of 1959) was repealed and replaced by the Superior Courts Act of 2013.  This Act was intended to rationalise the country’s court structure and bring it into line with the Constitution.  As a result, the Supreme Court of Appeal is now formally recognised in the governing legislation as a separate court and not merely an appellate division of the country’s High Court.  Other notable amendments made by the Superior Courts Act are the transfer of the administration of the courts from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (as it was then known) to the Office of the Chief Justice, and the amendment of the procedures relating to the application for and hearing of appeals.


Amidst and perhaps despite all of the above uncertainty and complexity relating to jurisdiction and hierarchy, the Supreme Court of Appeal has in the democratic, constitutional era delivered many judgments which eloquently express the power and experience of the Court. The South African judiciary since 1994 has confirmed that an independent judiciary is essential to a vibrant democracy. The Court has internalised the values of our Constitution, and has been true to them, articulating the requirements of the Constitution fairly, resolutely and consistently, despite significant political and popular resistance.


The Court buildingpic

The Court initially used accommodation in the Raadsaal, the building across the road from the east of the current Court building.  The Raadsaal is now the seat of the provincial legislature of the Free State.  The first and only Court building was opened on 1 October 1929 and was extended in 1967. More recently, a second extension was completed in 2011.


The building is said to have been built in a free Renaissance style.  The oldest part was built with sandstone from Ladybrand, the newer eastern wing with sandstone from Ficksburg, and the latest extension from Mookgophong in Limpopo. On each occasion, the extensions were made so as to preserve the style and appearance of the building as far as possible.


The furniture and wall cladding in the two original courtrooms and the library are in stinkwood (ocotea bullata), a scarce and valuable indigenous tree.  Above the main entrance and set in stone is, in the words of Lord De Villiers, first Chief Justice of South Africa: ‘. . . the Helmet of the armour of Faith, symbolical of the nation’s fast faith in the justice and the power of the law; the Keys of Emancipation from Tyranny, where there is no law; and the Lamp and the Torches of Truth’. The south entrance bears the head of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and protector of art and science, and the northern door, that of Jupiter, the head of the Roman pantheon.


It was hoped that the new courtroom could also be clad in stinkwood, but this was not possible as there was a real threat that there would not be sufficient quantities of the wood to meet the project’s needs as the tree is now considered a threatened species. It was therefore substituted with Imbuia, a high quality decorative wood which is similar in appearance.


The library

Housed on the upper floor of the building, the Library itself comprises two levels. The original Library consisted of a single chamber with alcoves on both sides, together with an upper gallery. The Library has now been considerably extended, and has an additional wing made up of what were formerly judges’ chambers.




The Library’s upper gallery extends around the central chamber, and set in the centre of each of the four gallery walls are the coats of arms of the four Provinces of the former Union of South Africa, modelled in plaster and finished in colour. The shelves are of Burmese Teak and the floor is composed of stinkwood blocks.


The Library houses approximately 43 000 volumes, of which about 4 000 titles are ‘old authorities’ which consist, for the most part, of the writings of the Dutch and Continental jurists of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The two oldest works in the library are both dated 1544. These are the complete works of Bartolus (1313-1357) in 10 volumes and those of his pupil, Baldus (1327-1400). Written in Latin, they provide a commentary on the Corpus Juris Civilis of the Roman Emperor Justinian. Another unique item is the Tractatus Universi Juris, compiled at the end of the 16th century on the instruction of Pope Gregory. These works are not merely of antiquarian interest. Given the unique status of the ‘old authorities’ in the South African legal system, they are still consulted and occasionally referred to in judgments of the Court.


The Library also houses a comprehensive collection of South African textbooks and a fairly representative spread of Anglo-American and Continental court reports, textbooks and legal periodicals. It is at present attempting to improve its collection of constitutional and international law works.


It is customary for academics to donate copies of their legal treatises to the Library. The Library is primarily for the use of the judges of the Court. Court staff also has access to it as do members of the legal profession, and the public, under restricted conditions.


The portrait gallery

In the corridor leading to the Library hang photographs of the chief justices and most of the judges of the Court since its inception in 1910. There are paintings and busts of a number of the legal giants of the past, including the busts of South Africa's first five chief justices in the Library.


Dominating the old entrance hall, on the stairway, is the bust of Lord de Villiers (1873-1914), the Union of South Africa's first chief justice.  He presided over the National Convention which led to the creation of the Union of South Africa.  A forceful personality and a man of immense dignity, he contributed enormously throughout his 40 year judicial career to the shaping of South African law.


His successor was Sir James Rose Innes (1855-1942) of whom there is both a painting on the stairway and a bust in the Library.  He was renowned for his learning and the lucidity of his judgments.  He is said to have retired prematurely to enable his life-long friend and colleague, Sir William Henry Solomon (1852-1930) to serve a term as chief justice.  Sir Solomon’s bust is also in the Library as is the bust of Solomon's successor, Sir Jacob de Villiers (1868-1932).  Wounded and captured during the Boer War, he was a prisoner of war in Bermuda.  An imposing personality, his tenure as chief justice, like that of his predecessor, was brief.


Sir John Wessels (1862-1936), of whom there is also a bust in the Library was one of the most erudite of judges.  A dynamic personality, with an outstanding intellect and amazing industry he was, by all accounts, also pugnacious and impatient on the Bench.


The judicial career of Sir John Gilbert Kotzé (1849-1940) spanned 50 years from his appointment in 1877, when he was a mere 27 years old, until his retirement in 1927.  As chief justice of the Transvaal Republic he was dismissed by President Kruger when he held that the courts had the right to test against the Constitution, and declare invalid, resolutions and acts passed by the legislature.  A noted scholar, a man of immense learning and a collector of books, his collection of 1556 titles, bought by the government in 1927 for £800, formed the nucleus of the then fledgling library of the Appellate Division, and is still retained as a separate collection, in which room his bust is located.


Leopold Greenberg (1885-1964) was a judge of appeal from 1943 to 1955.  He is famed for the incisiveness of his mind, his clarity of expression and his mordant wit.  Two of his contemporaries whose busts are also in the Library are Oliver Deneys Schreiner (1890-1980) and F P (Toon) van den Heever (1894-1956).  Schreiner was a judge of appeal from 1945 to 1960.  He was highly esteemed as a judge and would, but for prevailing political circumstances, inevitably have been the chief justice.  Van den Heever, a man of great versatility, is also renowned as an Afrikaans poet.  The bust of Chief Justice L C Steyn (1903-1976) is also present.  He was appointed as a judge of appeal in 1955 and as chief justice in 1959, in which capacity he served until his early retirement in 1971.


Finally, in one of the wings of the Library, there is the bust of Tielman Roos (1879-1935), a former Minister of Justice, a dynamic, jovial and popular political figure who was the only member of this court to be appointed directly as a judge of appeal from the ranks of politicians.


Former Chief Justices of the Appellate Division 
1910 - 1914 :     Lord Henry de Villiers (first Chief Justice)
1914 - 1927 :     Sir James Rose-Innes
1927 - 1929 :     Sir William H Solomon
1929 - 1932 :     Jacob de Villiers
1932 - 1936 :     Sir J W Wessels
1936 - 1938 :     J S Curlewis
1938 - 1939 :     J Stratford
1939 - 1943 :     N J de Wet
1943 - 1950 :     E F Watermeyer
1950 - 1957 :     A van der Sandt Centlivres
1957 - 1959 :     H A Fagan
1959 - 1971 :     Dr L C Steyn
1971 - 1974 :     N Ogilvie Thompson
1974 - 1982 :     F L H Rumpff

1982 - 1989 :     P J Rabie
1989 - 1996 :     M M Corbett
1997 - 2000 :     I Mahomed (died 17th June 2000)

2000 - 2001 :     H J O Van Heerden (Acting Chief Justice)
2001           :     J J F Hefer (Acting Chief Justice)


Presidents of the Supreme Court of Appeal 

2002 :
2003 - 2008 : 

2008 - to date :

J J F Hefer (Acting President)
C T Howie

L Mpati


Deputy Presidents of the Supreme Court of Appeal

2003 - 2008 :
2008 - 2011 :

2012 – 2014 :

L Mpati
L T C Harms

K K Mthiyane


Appeal Judges from 1910

1910 - 1922 :         C G Maasdorp
1914 - 1923 :         Sir Henry H Juta
1922 - 1927 :         Sir John G Kotzé
1929 - 1932 :         T J de V Roos
1932 - 1937 :         F W Beyers
1933 - 1939 :         Sir Etienne de Villiers
1938 - 1949 :         B A Tindall
1939 - 1944 :         R Feetham
1943 - 1955 :         L Greenberg
1945 - 1961 :         O D Schreiner
1948 - 1956 :         F P van den Heever
1949 - 1963 :         O H Hoexter
1955 - 1960 :         E N de Beer
1955 - 1957 :         F G Reynolds
1955 - 1957 :         H de Villiers
1955 - 1957 :         C P Brink
1955 - 1956 :         C G Hall
1956 - 1968 :         D O K Beyers
1958 - 1974:          N Ogilvie Thompson
1958 - 1976 :         P J van Blerk
1958           :         A B Beyers
1959 - 1960 :         A C Malan
1959 - 1961 :         W H Ramsbottom
1961 - 1965 :         D H Botha
1961 - 1963 :         L J de V van Winsen
1961 - 1967 :         J T van Wyk
1961 - 1977 :         G N Holmes
1962 - 1967 :         A Faure-Williamson
1963 - 1984 :         P J Wessels
1965 - 1973 :         H J Potgieter
1968 - 1988 :         E L Jansen
1969 - 1981 :         W G Trollip
1971 - 1984 :         G V R Muller
1974 - 1978 :         S Hofmeyr
1975 - 1976 :         O Galgut
1976 - 1977 :         J N C de Villiers
1976 - 1985 :         G P C Kotzé
1976 - 1985 :         S Miller
1977 - 1982 :         M A Diemont
1977 - 1995 :         C P Joubert
1978 - 1986 :         J J Trengove
1980 - 1985 :         P M Cillié
1980 - 1988 :         G Viljoen
1982 - 1994 :         G G Hoexter
1982 - 1996 :         A S Botha
1982 - 2000 :         H J O van Heerden
1983 - 1985 :         H C Nicholas
1984 - 2002 :         J J F Hefer
1985 - 1986 :         W G Boshoff
1985 - 1988 :         H R Jacobs
1985 - 1998 :         E M Grosskopf
1985 - 2002 :         J W Smalberger
1986 - 1997 :         H H Nestadt
1986 - 2003 :         W Vivier
1988 - 1990 :         M T Steyn
1988 - 1996 :         M E Kumleben
1988 - 1994 :         J P G Eksteen
1988 - 1993 :         A J Milne
1988 - 2001 :         F H Grosskopf
1990 - 1991 :         G Friedman
1990 - 1994 :         R J Goldstone
1990 - 2002 :         P M Nienaber
1991 - 1996 :         L van den Heever
1993 - 2008 :         C T Howie
1993 - 1994 :         J C Kriegler
1993 - 2011 :         L T C Harms
1995 - 2004 :         R M Marais
1995 - 2003 :         P J J Olivier
1995 - 2005 :         W P Schutz
1995 - 2008 :         D G Scott
1996 - 2007 :         R H Zulman
1996 - 2000 :         C Plewman
1997 - 2010 :         P E Streicher
2000 - 2009 :         I G Farlam
2000 - 2008 :         E Cameron
2000 - to date :      M S Navsa
2000 - 2016 :         L Mpati
2001 - 2014 :         K K Mthiyane
2002 - 2015 :         F D J Brand
2002 - 2013 :         R W Nugent
2002 - 2007 :         J H Conradie
2003 - 2012 :         T D Cloete
2003 - to date :      C H Lewis
2003 - 2012 :         J A Heher
2004 - 2013 :         B J van Heerden
2004 - to date :      V M Ponnan
2005 - 2009 :         C N Jafta
2005 - 2010 :         D Mlambo
2006 - to date:       M M L Maya
2007 - 2008 :         P C Combrinck
2007 - to date :      A Cachalia
2009 - 2014:          S Snyders
2009 - to date:       N Z Mhlantla
2009 - 2013 :         F R Malan
2009 - to date:       L O Bosielo
2009 - to date:       J B Z Shongwe
2009 - to date:       L E Leach
2009 - to date:       Z L Tshiqi
2010 - to date:       L V Theron
2010 - to date:       S A Majiedt
2010 - to date:       L W Seriti
2011 - to date:       M J D Wallis
2013 - to date:       N P Willis
2013 - to date:       H K Saldulker
2014 - to date:       K G B Swain
2014 - to date:       B H Mbha
2014 - to date:       D H Zondi
2015 – to date:      N Dambuza

2015 – to date:      R Mathopo

2016 - to date:       BC Mocumie

2016 - to date:       CHG van der Merwe

Updated: 22 May 2015