Ratha Mokgoatlheng profile

Ratha Mokgoatlheng has been appointed to take over the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.


Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng is a South African legal practitioner and a high court judge. He served as an acting judge for three years and got his first appointment as a judge on 30 May 2007.

Mokgoatlheng is the new judge appointed to take over the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial. He took over from Judge Maumela after his suspension from President Cyril Ramaphosa. His journey started with being a football star.

Early Life

Ratha Mokgoatlheng
Ratha Mokgoatlheng biography
Ratha Mokgoatlheng is a judge at the Johannesburg High Court.
Personal Information
Name:Ratha Mokgoatlheng
Other names:Jimmy Greaves
Nationality:South African
Alma mater:University of Fort Hare
Occupation:Legal practitioner, magistrate
First appointed as a judge30 May 2007

Ratha Mokgoatlheng grew up in an academic family in Alexandra Township. His uncle was a school teacher who later became a principal and inspector.


Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng moved with his family to Diepkloof, Soweto, and attended Madibane High for three years. After matriculation, he studied law at the University of Fort Hare.

Mokgoatlheng chose law because of his father’s preaching and his admiration for Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo.


Mokgoatlheng played football before practicing law. He is now a high court judge, a talented player for three years to go for football trials overseas after matric.

Football Journalist Sy Lerman tried to get him a trial with Manchester United. His father wanted him to go and study at the university. He was well known for throwing his upper body to send opponents in the wrong direction.

However, he did not stay long at Pirates. He and corner-kick specialist Edward “Msomi” Khoza and Thomas “Zero My Hero” Johnson got expelled for defying team management’s orders and being obstreperous.

After a year, he and Kaizer Motaung founded the Kaizer Chiefs Football Club, and then he began studying law. As early as the 1970s, players learned that education and sports go together. In the university, he played for the Chiefs.

Mokgoatlheng did his articles at Bowman Gilfillan law firm after he qualified. In 1976, he was admitted as an attorney and continued to play for the Chiefs.

After practicing for 30 years, he became an acting judge in 2002. Eventually, he climbed to a full-time position on the Bench after four years. Each time he convicts a criminal to a prison term, he says, “Come back a better person”.

Ratha is the only known soccer star to have played wearing spectacles.

Murder trial

Ratha is to restart the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at the Pretoria High Court on Monday following the delay due to the ill health of Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela.

In June 2023, Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba addressed the court. He said that Maumela would be away for a long time.

President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended Maumela after he failed to conclude many outstanding court matters. The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) recommended the suspension. 

Maumela was unable to meet the prescribed timeframes for resolving cases. Ratha Mokgoatlheng took over as a new judge to continue with the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial. 

Meyiwa was a victim of murder on 26 October 2014. He got shot at his then girlfriend’s residence in Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg.

Personal Life

Ratha Mokgoatlheng is married. He and his wife had two children.

Share to others: