Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng went from being a football star to the Bench.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng is a South African High Court Judge and legendary soccer great. He was one of the founding members of Kaizer Chiefs. He got his first appointment as a Judge on 30 May 2007.

The former soccer star is presiding over the Senzo Meyiwa trial. He took over from Judge Tshifiwa Maumela. He has vast knowledge of South African law, wit, and sharpness of his tongue.

Ratha Mokgoatlheng
Ratha Mokgoatlheng biography
Ratha Mokgoatlheng is the new judge presiding over the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.
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

Early Life

Ratha Mokgoatlheng was born in Alexandra Township. He and his family forcibly relocated to Diepkloof, Soweto. He grew up in an academic family where his uncle, who later became the principal and school inspector, was a teacher.

The Judge grew up in the house of the secretary-general of the South African Communist Party, Moses Kotane. He went for law partly because he admired Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, who were lawyers. His father also insisted that he should become a man of the law.


Judge Ratha attended Madibane High for three years. He enrolled to study law at the University of Fort Hare.



Mokgoatlheng started his soccer career at Orlando Pirates at the age of 20. The football team expelled him in 1969. In his football days, he had the nickname Jimmy Greaves. During his soccer days, he used to play wearing spectacles.

Ratha and two others, Thomas Zero Johnson and Edward Msomi Khoza, received expulsion letters after they went to participate as guest players for a local club in Gaborone, Botswana, without informing the management properly.

The Judge attempted to go for football trials overseas for three years. Sy Lerman, a veteran football journalist, tried to get him a trial with Manchester United. His father refused while insisting that he further his studies at Fort Hare.

Ratha, alongside Kaizer and Khoza, founded Kaizer Chiefs. He went on to study law at the University while playing for Kaizer Chiefs. He was still part of the club after being an admitted attorney in 1976.

Mokgoatlheng was known to throw his upper body in a way that sent opponents in the wrong direction. He scored what Ace Ntsoelengoe called a never-see goal for Pirates in 1968 against Randfontein club Young Zebras.


The Judge did his articles at Bowman Gilfillan law firm, following his qualifications. He became an admitted attorney in 1976. He became an acting judge in 2002 after he practiced law for thirty years. Mokgoatlheng was appointed as a full-time Judge in 2007, before his retirement. 

Among his cases was the Jeppestown massacre trial. Four cops and eight suspected robbers died in a five-hour gun battle at a house in Jeppestown, Johannesburg, in June 2006. He sentenced the eleven accused to life behind bars.

Ratha jailed Richard Mdluli, a former crime intelligence boss, for the kidnapping of his customary wife. He granted bail to Angelo Agrizzi, who was Bosasa’s whistle-blower, in 2020. He also recognized Lerato Sengadi’s customary wife during the highly publicized court battles.

The Judge presides over the Senzo Meyiwa trial after taking over from Judge Tshifiwa Maumela. President Cyril Ramaphosa had suspended Maumela for failing to conclude many outstanding court matters.

Personal Life

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng has a wife and two children.