On Wednesday, 24 July 2013, South Africa awoke to the news of the death of former Chief Justice Pius Langa. Langa succumbed to a long illness on Wednesday morning at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg at the age of 74.
In April this year Langa was admitted to a Durban hospital. However, he was discharged a few days later.
Langa had a B Juris and an LLB, both from the University of South Africa. He obtained them in 1973 and 1976 respectively. According to his Wikipedia biography, “He was admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa in June 1977, practised at the Natal Bar and attained the rank of Senior Counsel in January 1994.”
In subsequent years Langa held other key positions within the South African Constitutional Court. In 2005 President Thabo Mbeki appointed him as the country’s Chief Justice and head of the Constitutional Court. He served as Chief Justice for five years, from 2005 to 2009.
During his tenure as Chief Justice, he was awarded the Order of the Supreme Counsellor of the Baobab (2008). According to reports, he received several other awards for advancing justice and human rights.
Langa’s wife, Thandekile Beauty Langa, with whom he had six children, also died at Milpark Hospital in 2009. She died at the age of 64 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for many years.
President Jacob Zuma has sent his condolences to Langa’s family. “The country has lost one of its best legal minds, a dedicated Human Rights jurist and a veteran struggle activist. On behalf of government and the people of South Africa, we wish to convey our deepest condolences. May his soul rest in peace,” he said.