Bess Nkabinde (born Motsatsi) was born in Silwerkrans/Tlokweng (North West Province) on 15 May 1959. She is blessed with four children.
She matriculated at Mariasdal High School, Tweespruit, Free State Province in 1979. She obtained a BProc degree at the University of Zululand in 1983. In 1986, she obtained an LLB from North West University. She was awarded a Diploma in Industrial Relations with Distinction in 1987.
- 1984 – 1988: State Law Advisor - Legislative Drafting (Bophuthatswana).
- 1988: Admission as Advocate (Bophuthatswana).
- 1989: Pupillage (Johannesburg Bar).
- 1989: Admission as Advocate (Republic of South Africa).
- 1990 – 1999: Practising as an Advocate, North West Bar. Areas of law: civil, commercial, matrimonial as well as criminal matters.
- 1993: Attended a Judicial Training Programme in Canada.
- 1994 – 1995: Mpshe Commission of Inquiry into the Mutiny of Warders at Mogwase Prison (Role of investigation and leading of evidence).
- February – October 1999: Acting Judge of the High Court (Bophuthatswana Provincial Division).
- November 1999: Permanently appointed as Judge of the High Court (Bophuthatswana Provincial Division).
- 2000: Acting Judge of the Labour Court – one term (Johannesburg).
- 2003: Acting Judge of the Labour Court - one term (Johannesburg).
- 2003: Appointed to serve on the Special Tribunal on civil matters likely to emanate from Investigations by the Special Investigative Units established in terms of Act No. 74 of 1996.
- October 2004 - May 2005: Acting Judge of the Labour Appeal Court.
- 2004: Member of the Sub- Committee of the Coordinating Committee of the Justice System: on Racism and Sexism within the Judiciary Member.
- 2004 - 2013: Chairperson of the Rules Board for Courts of Law.
- June - November 2005: Acting Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal.
- January 2006 – December 2017: Justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of South Africa.
- May 2016 – June 2017: Acting Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa.
- November 2016: Acting Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa.
Affiliations/Directorships and other positions held
- Member: North West Bar Association (1990 -1999); Secretary of the Bar (1998 – 1999).
- Member: Aids Committee, Bophuthatswana (1988).
- Member: Black Lawyers Association (BLA).
- Member: North West Parks Board (1995 - 1999).
- Director: Dirapeng (Pty) Ltd and Golden Leopard Resorts (Pty) Ltd (1997 - 1999); Invest North West (Pty) Ltd (1997 - 2000).
- Governor: International School of South Africa (1995 - 1999).
- Member: Small Claims Court, Mafikeng (1998 - 1999).
- Member: Defunct Sub-Committee of the Judicial Education Training Committee.
- Member: International Association of Women Judges: SA Chapter.
- Director: School Aid of South Africa (NGO −in partnership with School Aid –UK, the Department of Basic Education; Liberty and Standard Bank − for construction/ Renovation of libraries and supply of books for disadvantaged young learners to promote literacy in schools) (2015 to date).
- Attended and facilitated a discussion on “The Rights of Minorities within the context of Access to Justice” at the First South Asian Regional Judicial Colloquium on “Access to Justice” which was convened by the Chief Justice BN Kirpal and facilitated by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), International Center for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (Interights) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (November 2002 – NEW DELHI, INDIA).
- Paper and Presentation on “Appeals and Reviews” and on “Sentencing” to the Aspirant Judges (Judicial Education Training Programme (JOHANNESBURG).
- Paper and Presentation addressing newly appointed Magistrates at the Magistrates’ conference (Justice College) on “Judicial ethics, independence and accountability” (PRETORIA).
- Paper: Addressing attendants at the Family Court Seminar (Justice Regional Office/ Office of the Family Advocate) (MMABATHO, MAFIKENG).
- Paper and presentation: “Socio-economic justice” during the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) road-show in bringing Parliament to the People (MMMABATHO, MAFIKENG).
- Panel Member: The final round of the 16th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition organised jointly by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria.
(August 2007-DAKAR, SENEGAL)
The moot Court is one of the most useful mediums for contact and exchange between law students, academics and Judges from all over Africa on issues concerning human rights. The Centre for Human Rights was awarded the UNESCO 2006 Prize for Human Rights Education on recognition of its contribution to human rights education on the continent through the Moot Court Competition and the LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa.
Teaching/Conducting seminars for post-graduate students at the University of Maryland, School of Law faculty on the topic of: “Introduction to South African Constitutional Jurisprudence”.
(September-October 2008 – BALTIMORE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)