May 23, 2024
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng Biography
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng Biography

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng Biography

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng is a legal professional from South Africa who holds the position of a high court judge. He began his judicial career as an acting judge, serving in that role for a period of three years. His official appointment as a judge took place on May 30, 2007.

Notably, Judge Mokgoatlheng has recently been appointed to preside over the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, stepping in following the suspension of Judge Maumela by President Cyril Ramaphosa. It’s interesting to note that Judge Mokgoatlheng’s journey commenced with a background as a football star.

Personal Information

  • Name: Ratha Mokgoatlheng
  • Other names: Jimmy Greaves
  • Nationality: South African
  • Education: Law
  • Alma mater: University of Fort Hare
  • Children: 2
  • Occupation: Legal practitioner, magistrate
  • Capacity: Judge
  • First appointed as a judge 30 May 2007

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng Early Life

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng was raised in a family with a strong academic background in Alexandra Township. His uncle, initially a schoolteacher, later advanced to the roles of a principal and inspector in the education sector.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng Education

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng relocated with his family to Diepkloof in Soweto, where he spent three years and attended Madibane High School. Following his completion of high school, he pursued a law degree at the University of Fort Hare. His decision to study law was influenced by his father’s sermons and his deep admiration for figures like Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng Career

Before embarking on his legal career, Mokgoatlheng had a background in football, displaying his talent for three years and aiming to attend football trials abroad after completing high school.

Football journalist Sy Lerman attempted to arrange a trial with Manchester United for him, but Mokgoatlheng’s father had different plans, wanting him to pursue university studies. He was recognized for his skill in using his upper body to mislead opponents.

However, his stint at Pirates was short-lived. He, along with corner-kick specialist Edward “Msomi” Khoza and Thomas “Zero My Hero” Johnson, faced expulsion for disobeying team management’s directives and causing disruptions.

A year later, he, along with Kaizer Motaung, co-founded the Kaizer Chiefs Football Club, subsequently embarking on his law studies. This reflects the early recognition in the 1970s that education and sports complement each other, with him continuing to play for the Chiefs during his university years.

Following his qualification, Mokgoatlheng completed his articles at the Bowman Gilfillan law firm. In 1976, he was admitted as an attorney, while maintaining his involvement with the Chiefs.

After three decades in legal practice, he assumed the role of an acting judge in 2002. Within four years, he advanced to a full-time judicial position. On each occasion that he sentences a criminal to a prison term, he conveys the message, “Come back as a better person.”

A distinctive feature of Ratha is that he is the sole known soccer star to have played while wearing spectacles.

Senzo Meyiwa Murder Trial

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng is set to resume the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at the Pretoria High Court on Monday, a trial that had experienced delays due to the health issues of Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela.

In June 2023, Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba addressed the court, announcing that Maumela’s extended absence was anticipated.

President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended Maumela after he failed to conclude numerous pending court cases, a recommendation made by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Maumela was unable to meet the established timeframes for case resolutions. Consequently, Ratha Mokgoatlheng was appointed as the new judge to carry on with the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.

Meyiwa tragically lost his life on October 26, 2014, as he was shot at the residence of his then-girlfriend in Vosloorus, located to the east of Johannesburg.

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