Steve Letsike, the founding director of Access Chapter Two, an LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex) organisation, has been named by President Cyril Ramaphosa as one of the panellists to short-list candidates for South Africa’s next Chief justice. The LGBTQI+ community has welcomed this move, as Chief Justice is the most senior judge of the Constitutional Court.
The selection panel also includes former Judge of the International Court of Justice and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay as Chairperson, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, former Minister of Justice, Jeff Radebe, former Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela, and Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law, Professor Ziyad Motala.
Bontle Khalo Mohapi, an LGBTQI+ activist and member of the Ekhuruleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC) reflected on Lestike’s appointment by saying,“I am extremely excited and proud regarding Steve Letsike’s appointment in the panel to short-list candidates… It is a ground-breaking and inclusive decision to even consider a black lesbian woman in a panel that has extraordinary people like Advocate Thuli Madonsela.”
Mohapi went on to add that, “Steve is a dynamic and fierce feminist who has worked tirelessly for the LGBTIQ+ community and women. She has dedicated most of her life to fighting for what is fundamentally right and just. She really deserves this great honour. This is the first appointment of its kind, so I can safely say that this has taken forever.”
Concluding, Mohapi added that; “It is however through the passion and drive of wonderful activists such as Steve and many others who like her, have paved the way. It is an indication that better things are yet to come for us, and Steve is a huge inspiration for us all who want to make a mark in this world and in the future of queer activism.”
The LGBTQI+ movement in South Africa is one that stems back decades. In the past openly homosexual people were never even considered for such positions. Many feel that this is forward movement in terms of results from the efforts by the LGBTQI+community.
The justice system has arguably often failed and continues to fail to deal with hate crimes against the LGBTQI+ community accordingly. With this appointment to the Chief Justice selection panel, the hope is that the inclusion of an LGBTQI+ activist may ensure that the justice system improves its response to hate crime cases.
This article was submitted on 30 September 2021. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article (https://karibu.org.za/steve-letsike-is-first-black-lesbian-woman-to-be-appointed-to-chief-justice-selection-panel/).