Gauteng judge Willem van der Linde dies suddenly at weekend

11 November 2019 - 10:56 By ERNEST MABUZA
Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said Willem Van der Linde, 63, was 'a pillar of strength at the high court'.
Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said Willem Van der Linde, 63, was 'a pillar of strength  at the high court'.
Image: Group 621 advocates website

Gauteng high court judge Willem van der Linde passed away suddenly at the weekend.

Gauteng judge president Dunstan Mlambo said Van der Linde, 63, was “a committed jurist, a pillar of strength  at the court”.

He was appointed to the high court in 2015. Before then, he served as an advocate from 1983 and took silk in 1995.

Van der Linde was a graduate of the University of Port Elizabeth, now Nelson Mandela University, where he obtained his LLB and LLM degrees.

He had extensive experience as a commercial litigator, including in the specialist areas of insurance and construction.

The office of the chief justice said Van der Linde was well-prepared, someone who listened patiently and politely, but also dealt decisively with counsel on both sides appearing before him.

“He had a commanding judicial presence and demonstrated an acute grasp of the issues,” Mlambo said.

Mlambo said the loss would be deeply felt by colleagues and staff in Gauteng.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife Isabella, his children, family and friends.” 

In an interview before being appointed as a judge in 2015, Van der Linde disclosed that while at university, he was a member of the Ruiterwag, the youth wing of the Afrikaner Broederbond, a secret, exclusively male and Afrikaner organisation dedicated to the advancement of Afrikaner interests.

Van der Linde said he was asked by the dean of students to join and was told it was an Afrikaner think tank. He said he thought at the time it was “a cool idea, if I may say that”.

Van der Linde said he thought of himself as a progressive and believed he could contribute in these young Afrikaner circles.

“I can see now quite clearly that it took far too long for me to absorb the fact that it was only white, only male, and that it was secret.”

When asked why he stayed in the organisation for more than 10 years, he said he had thought about this often, and could not explain it to himself.

“I find it indefensible,” he said.

The Legal Practice Council expressed sadness at his passing.

The council said Van der Linde briefly served as a member of the National Forum on the legal profession before being appointed a judge.

The forum was established to oversee the transition from the previous dispensation to the Legal Practice Council.