Bernard Ngoepe grew up in a small rural village in the area around Pietersburg, spending his early days tending the family’s sheep and cattle in the fields.
Ngoepe was awarded his first degree in 1973, a BIuris from the University of the North. He continued his studies, through Unisa, while serving his articles as a candidate attorney, and obtained an LLB degree in 1977.
After completion of his articles and obtaining his LLB degree, Ngoepe practiced as an attorney for seven years. In 1983 he was admitted as an Advocate of what is now the High Court of South Africa. He practiced as such for twelve years becoming senior counsel in 1994. In 1995 was appointed a Judge of the Transvaal Provincial Division of the High Court of South Africa. Also in 1995, he served a term as an Acting Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and two terms, in 1998, as an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. In 1999 he was appointed Judge President of the Transvaal Provincial Division of the High Court of South Africa. In 2001 he was appointed Chancellor of the University of South Africa (Unisa).
- Appointed member of the Amnesty Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- Chairperson of the Magistrate’s Commission.
- Member of the Judicial Service Commission.
- Appointed Honorary Captain of the South African Navy.
- Appointed Honorary Professor, University of Limpopo.
- Appointed Judge of the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights.