Book Launch: Rich Pickings Out of the Past, by Judge Bernard M Ngoepe


In his debut book Rich Pickings Out of the Past, Judge Bernard Ngoepe takes us back into the past on the back of his life experiences and those of others in search of some valuable lessons that the past offered; hence the title of the book: “Rich Pickings out of the Past.”  The book selects, and examines, some of those past experiences, practices and events and wonders whether, at the personal, communal and national levels, we learnt any lessons ­– which the past generously offered – in our quest to build a better country. Readers are left to make their own conclusions; but the challenge is directed at everybody in whatever walk of life. The book therefore goes far beyond the author and his personal experiences.

Judge Ngoepe pays tribute to all those who did overcome adversities and the many obstacles such as all sorts of prejudices, to attain certain heights. “The hurdles that I had to scale were by no means peculiar to me. They also varied in nature and extent, but all had a common denominator, namely, the demand on one to dig deep! Some of these hurdles manifested themselves in various ways. I attempt to show that they can be overcome, be it through personal courage or luck,” says Ngoepe.

rich pickings out of the past book cover

The book is an intersection of rich and varied experiences of the author; to name only some: both as a former attorney and advocate for many years; a Judge for 18 years, 14 of which as Judge President and thus wrestling with the transformation of the Judiciary; Chairperson of the Magistrates Commission (which appoints the country’s magistrates) for more than 12 years; President of the Court of Military Appeals of the South African National Defence Force for more than 12 years; Member of the Judicial Service Commission for about 14 years; Chancellor of the University of South Africa for some 16 years; a Judge and Vice President of an international court, namely, the African Union’s African Court on Human and People’s Rights, Tanzania; and, currently, as the country’s Tax Ombud; he also holds various other positions.

Judge Ngoepe has a stellar record for his participation in and contributions to human rights and the rule of law in South Africa and abroad. He is the recipient of many honours and awards such as the Duma Nokwe Award, and four honorary doctorates, to name a few.

Most importantly though Judge Ngoepe will reflect on the challenges that remain for democratic access to law and justice in SA.

“Those are the themes that I believe are pregnant with lessons; they derive from the ills, such as prejudices, some of which continue to bedevil society at various levels and therefore need to be tackled in earnest,” says Ngoepe.

“The central issue of Judge Ngoepe’s work is the lessons learnt through his very rich experiences in life, both professionally and personally. He shares these in an intimate and humble way, exploring various themes with the aim to provide fertile ground for debate and lessons. The work is written by a lawyer, but it is not only for lawyers. It has something for everyone – the young and the old.” Edmund Beerwinkel Professional Publishing Manager, Juta.

The issues raised in the book are directed at all of us irrespective of our political persuasion. Politicians, people in different walks of life, luminaries of South African law and friends of the profession will gather to celebrate the book launch at a hybrid event in Johannesburg on the 8th of June. The night will be a rich conversation about the issues raised by Judge Ngoepe. Judge Ngoepe is donating all his royalties for the first three years to Diabetes South Africa.

About the Publisher – Juta and Company have been associated with quality Law, Professional, Legal Education and Academic publishing in Southern Africa for over 168 years. Drawing on from its heritage of publishing authority and excellence, Juta has continued to remain relevant by developing innovative Law and Legal technological solutions which diversify beyond publishing.

The book will be available for purchase on and will be sold at the launch on the 8 June 2022. Media who wish to book interviews or attend the event are encouraged to contact Lele Maboi.


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Lele Maboi

084 089 3244

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