On Tuesday, 29 December 2020, the Constitutional Court heard the State Capture Commission’s application to compel the former President Zuma both to appear and give evidence before it. This application comes after the Chairperson of the Commission, Deputy Chief Justice Zondo (‘the DCJ’), dismissed an application for his recusal brought by the former president. Upon that dismissal, the former president and his lawyers, presumably on the advice of his counsel, (unlawfully) ‘excused themselves’ from the Commission’s proceedings for that day.

There is a running gag among the hosts of Just Us Under a Tree, a podcast about the Constitutional Court…


“The rule of law is an ideal of good government. By calling it an ideal, I am not suggesting it is utopian. I mean only that it is a cluster of principles from which isolated departures may be inevitable even in a decent regime, but substantial and committed compliance with which is one key determinant of a regime’s decency. The most basic principle is this: when we live under the rule of law, the agents of the state are legally and publicly accountable in the courts like everyone else, and the courts are independent enough of the (other) organs of…


The decline of politics and the rise of law in its stead.

In his BBC Reith Lecture series, Jonathan Sumption, a former justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, made the argument that judges were becoming increasingly powerful and that their powers (and their roles) had increasingly taken on a political character. Not only that but also that law had risen to a place of prominence in society, in the place of politics. This he attributed to a breakdown of trust between citizens and politicians, that has resulted in citizens being more comfortable looking to the law and…


“The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from disciplined legal reasoning … to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.” — Scalia J in dissent, Obergefell v. Hodges 135 S Ct 2584, 2628 (2015).

Logo of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of South Africa

Perhaps, to start, I need to make the following disclaimer: I am not part of the alleged conspiracy to tarnish the good name of the Constitutional Court, nor that of the Lord’s Chief Justice. But my friend Elisha is. …


“No one will have to call themselves gay. Maybe that’s at the bottom of my impatience with the term. It answers a false argument, a false accusation. Which is that you have no right to be here, that you have to prove your right to be here. I’m saying I have nothing to prove. The world also belongs to me.” — James Baldwin

What is it about not being able to call us faggots without consequence that aggrieves straight people so?

There is a sense in which homophobes are aggrieved by their inability to dehumanise gay people without backlash. How…


This is an edited version of a speech I delivered at the Constitutional Court on 29 November 2018.

Bagaetsho, dumelang. You see, this thing of majorities ruling can be problematic when there is no counter-majoritarian force to protect you from the impulses of the majority. My speech today is the result of said impulse. And I say that accusingly, but I am actually very grateful for the opportunity afforded to me, by you, my esteemed colleagues.

Chief Justice, Justices, and colleagues. All protocol observed.

To speak of my time at the Court as life-changing is to understate the profound impact…


Baby Dan

“Perhaps everybody has a garden of Eden, I don’t know; but they have scarcely seen their garden before they see the flaming sword. Then, perhaps, life only offers the choice of remembering the garden or forgetting it. Either, or: it takes strength to remember, it takes another kind of strength to forget, it takes a hero to do both. People who remember court madness through pain, the pain of the perpetually recurring death of their innocence; people who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain and the hatred of innocence; and the world is…


It’s a struggle for memory, a struggle to remember. To put all those fragmented memories together, to remember your scent, your smile, your touch; and how you made me feel. And with every year, those memories—barely present—pale and fade away, yet the pain stays fresh, worsened by the realisation that a tomorrow with you will never come. That those faint memories are all I’ll ever have of you. It shames me, to proclaim to love you still, when I have forgotten how to remember you. But one day, we will be reunited and none of it will matter.

I wrote…


Thomas Piketty CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY (2013) at 1: ‘Marikana tragedy calls to mind earlier instances of violence. At Haymarket Square in Chicago on May 1, 1886, and then at Fourmies, in northern France, on May 1, 1891, police fired on workers striking for higher wages.’ He then asks whether ‘this kind of violent clash between labor and capital belong to the past, or will it be an integral part of twenty-first-century history?’ Piketty makes an important point that, ‘Symbolically, the inequality of capital and labor is an issue that arouses strong emotions. It clashes with widely held…


Bassanio: Do all men kill the things they do not love?
Shylock: Hates any man the thing he would not kill?”
 — 
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 1.

I had just started reading Ekow Duker’s latest offering “The God Who Made Mistakes,” when I woke up to the news of Noluvo Swelindawo’s death. Here I was, reading a book that starts with Sipho Sibanda’s death; he had been murdered, mutilated and dumped by the banks of a river in the Alexandra township. It was as if the universe was making some kind of sick twisted joke…

Dan Mafora

Lawyer interested in constitutional law and theory. Son of Baldwin.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store