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Retired judge Pius Langa dies

Former Constitutional Chief Justice Pius Langa has died at the age of 74.

Pius Langa. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Former Constitutional Chief Justice Pius Langa has died at the age of 74.

In a statement, his brother Mandla said the former chief justice died on Wednesday morning at the Milpark Hospital.

He had been in hospital for about a month due to a long illness.

Langa was admitted to hospital in Durban in April this year, although it remains unclear exactly what for.

Justice Langa and 10 other jurists were appointed the first judges of the Constitutional Court of South Africa when it was established when South Africa became a democracy.

He became its Deputy President in August 1997 and in November 2001 assumed the position of Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa.

He was appointed as the country's Chief Justice and head of the Constitutional Court in 2005 and held the position until his retirement in October 2009.

He later chaired the Press Freedom Commission which looked into the regulation of South Africa's print media.

In April 2008, Justice Langa was awarded the Order of the Baobab in Gold for his exceptional service in law, constitutional jurisprudence and human rights.

A FULL LIFE

Langa was born on 25 March 1939 in Bushbuckridge.

He worked in a shirt factory between 1957 and 1960, but then found a job as an interpreter and messenger for the Justice Department.

Langa obtained his B Juris from the University of South Africa in 1973 and his LLB in 1976.

He was admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa in June 1977 and practised at the Natal Bar where he attained the rank of Senior Counsel in 1994.

He served on the executive committee of the Democratic Lawyers Association (DLA) and was founder member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) and served as its President from 1988 to 1994.

He has served on the boards and as trustee of various law-related institutions, and was involved in the founding of the South African Legal Defence Fund (SALDEF).

He served as Commissioner of the pre-Constitutional Human Rights Commission (later known as the Human Rights Committee).

Langa married his wife Beauty in 1966 and had six children.

His wife died after battling a long illness.

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