13/12/2017 16:50 SAST | Updated 13/12/2017 16:51 SAST

The Thorn in Zuma's Side: Who Is Judge Dunstan Mlambo?

“I’ve always maintained I’m a new-generation judge. I do not shy away from dirtying my hands in my judicial work."
North and South Gauteng High Court Judge-President Dunstan Mlambo.

High Court Judge-President Dunstan Mlambo has been a thorn in President Jacob Zuma's side for the past two weeks, his rulings speaking truth to power in the midst of a volatile political environment.

And Mlambo is keeping true to his word –– in previous interviews he spoke out about the need to root out corruption in various sectors.

Last week, Mlambo ordered National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams to vacate his office. He ruled that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa must appoint a new NDPP within 60 days, giving Ramaphosa the responsibility because Zuma was found to be "conflicted".

READ: What Now For Shaun Abrahams?

On Wednesday, he dealt a double blow to Zuma. First, ordering that he pay the costs of his failed bid to block the release of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's State Of Capture report from his own pocket. An hour later, the High Court in Pretoria passed another judgment, dismissing Zuma's bid to have the recommendations of the same report set aside.

Mlambo said Zuma was "ill-advised and reckless" and must now appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture within 30 days, with the judge presiding over the probe to be appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

But who exactly is Dunstan Mlambo?

Mlambo was born in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. He studied law and in 1984, after completing his degree, he took a job as a legal adviser.

He rose to associate partner within five years of starting at Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys, and thereafter spent three years as a Labour Court judge and five years in both the South Gauteng High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal.

He also spent a decade as chairperson of Legal Aid SA.

In 2012, he was promoted to the his current post –– the judge-president of the North and South Gauteng High Courts –– taking over from Bernard Ngoepe.

In an interview with News24 in 2012, he described himself as a "new-generation" judge.

"I've always maintained I'm a new-generation judge. I do not shy away from dirtying my hands in my judicial work," he said.

IOL quoted Mlambo last year as saying there was a need for close collaboration in rooting out corruption.

He was speaking at the Africa Uniting Against Crime anti-corruption training sessions initiated by the African Prosecutors Association (APA), and in his speech he warned that corruption had also made its way into courts.