Narandran Jody Kollapen 2023


Respected human rights lawyer, Justice Narandran Jody Kollapen, was born on 20 May 1957 in Pretoria.

After matriculating at Laudium Secondary School in 1974, he registered for a law degree at the University of Durban-Westville, later transferring to the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where in 1978, he obtained his Baccalaureus Procurationis (BProc) and in 1981 his Baccalaureus Legum  (LLB).

He completed his articles and was admitted as an attorney in 1982 and with only R200 capital, he opened his own practice.

Each day, he took a bus trip into the city from his home where he was allocated two seats, the second seat was occupied by fellow working-class commuters who were given advice by the attorney – at no cost.

In the early 90’s, he joined Lawyers for Human Rights, being appointed as National Projects Director and later, National Director.

As a human rights lawyer, he was involved in and supported lawyers in a number of high-profile cases such as the trial of the Sharpeville Six, the Delmas Treason Trial, and the South African Medical and Dental Council's case against the government-employed medical practitioners who failed to appropriately diagnose and treat anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko, who died in police custody in 1977. During this time, he also served as a member of the selection panel that chose the commissioners for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

In December 1996, Justice Kollapen was appointed as a commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission where he spent approximately 13 years, 7 of which, serving as its chairperson.

In May 2011, he was appointed as judge of the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria, after having served as an acting judge in the previous year. Justice Kollapen also served as the chairperson of the South African Law Reform Commission from 2016 until October 2023.

On 24 December 2021, Justice Kollapen was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the country’s Constitutional Court.

He has held various positions in organisations and institutions committed to the protection and promotion of human rights. These include the Chairman of the Legal Resources Trust, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, The Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South Africa (IDASA) and the London based international human rights organisation, Article 19.

Numerous awards have been bestowed on him, including an honorary doctorate from the Durban University of Technology, a human rights award from the Turquoise Harmony Institute Award, a lifetime achievement award by the Congress of Business and Economics and a Citizens Excellence Award in the field of human rights by the Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane.


For his commitment to justice and his contribution to the development of our law in the area of justice and human rights advocacy, it is an honour for Nelson Mandela University to confer the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) on Justice Narandran Jody Kollapen.