Justice Catherine O’Regan

Professor Kate O’Regan joined the Board of Trustees in 2019. Kate is a former judge of the Consitutional Court of South Africa (1994 – 2009). From 2013 to 2014 she served as Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing and is now the inaugural Director of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford.

Kate studied at UCT from 1975 to 1980, gaining a BA and an LLB. After completing a LLM at the University of Sydney, she returned to South Africa and began her articles of clerkship at Bowman Gilfillan, specialising in labour law and land rights and representing many of the emerging trade unions and their members, as well as communities threatened with eviction under apartheid land laws.

After studying for a PhD at the London School of Economics, she returned to South Africa to work at UCT’s newly established Labour Law Unit in 1988. In 1990, she became an associate professor in the Law Faculty. She was a founder member of the Law, Race and Gender Research project and the Institute for Development Law at UCT. She also advised the African National Congress (ANC) on land claims legislation and served as a trustee of the Legal Resources Centre Trust. In 1994 she was appointed to the newly formed Constitutional Court of South Africa by Nelson Mandela, where she was one of the only two female judges on the Court for its first 13 years.

Since her fifteen-year term at the South African Constitutional Court ended in 2009, she has, amongst other things, served as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia (from 2010 – 2016), Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry (2012 – 2014), and as a member of the boards or advisory bodies of many NGOs working in the fields of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and equality.  Kate has also served on several international tribunals, and is currently a member of the Oversight Board Trust, a body set up to ensure the independence and efficiency of the Oversight Board, an independent body that decides cases challenging content moderation decisions relating to Facebook and Instagram.

“I joined the Trust because I feel deeply privileged to be an alumna of UCT, and hope that the Trust will be able to play a part in enabling UCT to fulfil its promise as an African university, committed to addressing the legacy of South Africa’s past, while building for its future – a university committed to fostering world-class research, excellent teaching and contributing through its research and public outreach to building a better society for all.”