History & Objectives
The Constitutional Court Trust was established in 1995 to manage funds donated in support of the newly established Constitutional Court. These monies were used to employ law clerks for judges of the Court and on the Library. The Trust has since embarked on various other projects in pursuit of its general objective, namely to promote the rule of law, constitutionalism and judicial independence in the African region, while its main focus remains on the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
The Trust is a charitable, not for profit organization, and is independent of both the Court and Government.
• The Trust administers two fellowships for postgraduate legal study for former law clerks, namely, the Franklin Thomas and Ismail Mahomed Fellowships. The fellowships are granted annually to fund studies in the USA.
• The Trust owns an extraordinary collection of artworks donated by prominent artists and other benefactors to celebrate the Court’s role in the transition to democracy. Works by artists Marlene Dumas, Gerard Sekoto, William Kentridge, Dumile Feni, Judith Mason, Willie Bester, Cecil Skotnes, Hamilton Budaza, Kim Berman, Sue Williamson, Anton van Wouw, John Baloyi, Andrew Verster, Marc Chagall, and many others form part of the collection which attracts many visitors to the Court.
• The Trust oversees the Kenyan law exchange program where four officers employed and nominated by the Kenyan judiciary, or civil society groups involved in human rights advocacy in Kenya, are hosted at the Constitutional Court in Braamfontein, and four South African law clerks who have completed their terms at the Court, taking up reciprocal positions in Kenya.
• The Law Clerks’ Programme provided high calibre professional assistance to Constitutional Court judges while also providing experience and training to promising young lawyers. Law clerks are now paid by the Department of Justice.
• The Library Project contributed a large part of the reference materials available at the Constitutional Court Library, and funded the remotely accessible digital library that serves judges of the Court.
• The Trust administered and funded the Southern African Chief Justices Forum at its inception. The Forum was established by Chief Justices from countries in South and East Africa to promote the rule of law and independent judiciaries in member countries.
• The Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) provides a growing body of users, free, full and anonymous access to primary legal materials from the South African courts and tribunals, and other jurisdictions in southern and east Africa. SAFLII’s current collection of material comprises over 40,000 judgments. The project was adopted by the University of Cape Town’s Rights and Governance Unit in December 2013.
• The Trust recently completed the “constitution-making” archive, which houses important collections of documents related to negotiations, CODESA and the making of the South African Constitution – in digital format.
The work of the Trust has been supported by the generous assistance of a number of partners and funders.