STATEMENT BY HIS LORDSHIP THE CHIEF JUSTICE MR JUSTICE MICHAEL M. RAMODIBEDI WELCOMING MADAM JUSTICE ESTHER A. OTA AND MR JUSTICE PHILLIP LEVINSOHN AT THE OPENING OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE SUPREME COURT ON 1 NOVEMBER 2012
It is my singular honour today to welcome to our Supreme Court Bench Madam Justice Esther A. Ota sitting on my far right and Mr Justice Phillip Levinsohn sitting on my far left.
Madam Justice Ota hails from Nigeria. She was born on 10 April 1966. She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989. Her career as a judicial officer commenced in 1993 when she was appointed a first class Magistrate in the Republic of the Gambia after joining her dear husband, Professor Martin Oko Ota, who is himself a medical practitioner of international repute. She rose to the position of Principal or Chief Magistrate.
From 2002 to 2006, Madam Justice Ota joined her husband in the United States where the latter was pursuing a fellowship programme.
In 2008, Madam Justice Ota was appointed a Justice of the Gambia Court of Appeal. Importantly, for certain periods from 2009 to 2010 she was appointed as Acting Chief Justice of the Republic of the Gambia (in the absence of the Chief Justice). She has also served as Acting Justice of the Supreme Court in that jurisdiction.
In 2009, she was elevated to the position of the President of the Gambia Court of Appeal, a position she held until November 2010, when she was seconded by the Commonwealth to the High Court in this jurisdiction.
As you will recall, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Swaziland on 22 July 2012. History will show that she is the first black female Judge to be appointed to the highest Court in this Country. Madam Justice Leo Van Den Heever was the first white female Judge to be appointed from 1999 to 2001.
In September 2012, Madam Justice Ota was appointed as Acting Judge of the Industrial Court of Appeal of Swaziland.
Mr Justice Phillip Levinsohn was born in 1939 in South Africa. He graduated with LLB in 1963 from the Witwatersrand University. He had a distinguished career both at the Bar and the Side Bar, taking Silk in 1988. He was admitted as an Advocate in Lesotho in 1976. He also appeared here in Swaziland.
In November – December 1988 as well as October 1989, Mr Justice Levinsohn was appointed as an Acting Judge of the Natal Provincial Division.
In April 1990, he was appointed as a permanent Judge of the Natal Provincial Division. He has produced outstanding judgments not only in criminal and civil cases but also on conceivably every legal topic.
From 2004 – 2009, Mr Justice Levinsohn was appointed President of the Tax Court. He wrote several landmark tax judgments.
In 2006, Mr Justice Levinsohn was appointed Deputy Judge President Natal Provincial Division, a position he held until his retirement in August 2009.
In 2006 – 2008, he acted as a Judge in the Competition Appeal Court.
In October 2009, Mr Justice Levinsohn was appointed as Senior Arbitrator South African Local Government Bargaining Council (KwaZulu Natal Region).
In 2010, Mr Justice Levinsohn was appointed as an Acting Judge of the High Court of Swaziland.
On 11 June 2012, Mr Justice Levinsohn was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Swaziland. As can be seen, he brings with him a wealth of experience into this jurisdiction.
We are deeply honoured to have Madam Justice Ota and Mr Justice Levinsohn on our permanent Supreme Court Bench. They are Judges of outstanding qualities. Their lucid and well researched judgments, delivered with admirable speed, bear testimony to this. We wish them happy and fruitful judicial careers in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
On behalf of the judiciary, the Judicial Service Commission, the entire Nation and on my own behalf, I take this opportunity to thank His Majesty King Mswati III for having appointed the two distinguished Judges to the Supreme Court of Swaziland.
On another note, we take this opportunity to congratulate our own Supreme Court Judge, Mr Justice Ag im for his recent appointment to the Supreme Court of Nigeria. The appointment is richly deserved. Mr Justice Agim is a rare breed of outstanding Judges who now serves three different jurisdictions at the highest level, namely, Swaziland, the Republic of the Gambia and Nigeria respectively.
I thank you
CHIEF JUSTICE OF SWAZILAND