Towards republican citizenship : a reflection on the jurisprudence of former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Southern African Public Law, Volume 32, p.1–13 (2017)



In modern scholarship, the analysis and use of the term ‘citizenship’ takes many forms and engages many disciplines and intellectual traditions. Ngcobo CJ has been at the centre of a fundamental debate over the meaning of citizenship that has developed in South Africa’s post-apartheid constitutional democracy. Drawing on previous research, the article briefly sketches what might be termed the republican tradition of democratic thought. It then provides an analysis of several significant cases in which Ngcobo CJ participated and the resolution of which he influenced. The article argues that consistent with and indeed constructive of an emerging republican tradition of democratic constitutionalism in South Africa, Ngcobo’s jurisprudential contributions recognise and articulate the public-spiritedness that the Republic of South Africa demands of each of its citizens.