25 February 2021 | Story Dr Annelie de Man | Photo Supplied
UFS Extraordinary Professor and an Acting Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Judge Dhaya Pillay.

Judge Dhaya Pillay, Extraordinary Professor in the Free State Centre for Human Rights at the University of the Free State (UFS) Faculty of Law, has been appointed an Acting Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Judge Pillay will serve in this capacity in the country’s highest court for the first term of 2021.

Judge Pillay has also been shortlisted for a permanent position in the Constitutional Court and will sit before the Judicial Service Commission in May 2021 for interviews. She was nominated for this position by the Free State Centre for Human Rights.

Judge Pillay joins the Constitutional Court from her position as judge in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, where she has served since 2009. She previously served for an acting term in the Supreme Court of Appeal and was a judge in the Labour Court.

She joined the Free State Centre for Human Rights as Extraordinary Professor in December 2020.

A strong presence in academia 

Judge Pillay has dedicated her professional life to the pursuit of transformation through law and has a wealth of experience as a defender of human rights. As attorney in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, she focused her work on assisting political detainees during the states of emergency, as well as other politically related cases. She was a judge of the Labour Court from 2000 to 2010, after which she was appointed to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court where she still serves. She has served as judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal and is a Commissioner of the Independent Electoral Commission. 

Throughout her career, Judge Pillay also maintained a strong presence in academia. She has served as an extraordinary professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria and has been a visiting academic or fellow at Seattle University, New York University, the University of Oxford, the Open University, and most recently, Harvard University.
She has also penned a number of academic publications over the course of her career.

In April 2020, she obtained her doctorate in law (LLD) from the University of Pretoria. She is currently converting her thesis into a book to be published towards the end of 2021.

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