Chief Justice Chaskalson to retire in May

President Thabo Mbeki has accepted Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson’s request to retire from the Bench.

Delivering his State of the Nation address to a joint sitting of Parliament on Friday—attended by Chaskalson—Mbeki paid tribute to the Chief Justice, calling him a giant among South Africans.

“Early last year, the Chief Justice reminded me that February 14, 2005, three days from today, will mark the 10th anniversary of the inauguration of our Constitutional Court.

“He felt then that ten years was a long time for one person to hold office as the head of our apex court, as he has done. He therefore thought it right and proper that he should take advantage of the beginning of the second decade of the Constitutional Court to retire from the Bench.”

Mbeki said he had agreed they should meet again at the beginning of this year to consider the matter, which they did.

“Chief Justice Chaskalson has convinced me that his own determination to continue to contribute to the birth of our nation, rather than personal considerations, dictates that he should relinquish his high post.

“I have listened carefully to his moving argument and was similarly moved to agree to his request.”

It had therefore been agreed that Chaskalson would be discharged from active service in the judiciary on May 31, this year.

Mbeki said he would now take the necessary steps to consult the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders of the political parties represented in Parliament to determine who would be the next Chief Justice from June 1, this year.

“I am privileged to have the opportunity on this important occasion on our national calendar to convey our thanks to, and salute a great son of our people, Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson.

“I trust that later this year, Parliament will give all of us an opportunity to bid this giant among the architects of our democracy the fitting farewell that the constraints of time today prohibit,” he said. - Sapa