"The former chief justice of South Africa, Justice Pius Langa, died this morning at the Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg," his brother Mandla said in a statement.
He had been in hospital for about a month due to a long illness.
He retired in 2009 and went on to chair the Press Freedom Commission, which looked into the regulation of the print media in South Africa.
The former chief justice was born in Bushbuckridge in 1939 and first started work in a shirt factory before moving on to serve in various positions in the then department of justice. It was in 1977, after obtaining B Juris and LLB degrees from the University of South Africa (Unisa), that his legal career took off.
In that year, he was admitted as an advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa, practised at the Natal Bar, and, in early 1994, attained the rank of Senior Counsel.
With the advent of democracy in South Africa and the establishment of a Constitutional Court, Langa was appointed, with ten others, to serve in the new court.
He became its deputy president in 1997, and assumed the position of deputy chief justice four years later.
Langa was appointed as chief justice and head of the Constitutional Court in June 2005, a position he held until his retirement.
Among the qualifications he was awarded over the course of his distinguished career are Doctor of Laws degrees, honoris causa, by the universities of Zululand, Western Cape, Cape Town, Unisa, Rhodes, Yale in the United States and the National University of Ireland.
Langa was awarded the degree Doctor of the Public Service, honoris causa, by North Eastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. – Sapa