Justice Leona Theron was born in KwaZulu-Natal on the east coast of South Africa. In 1989, Justice Theron was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study a Masters of Law degree at Georgetown University, in Washington DC.
She practiced as an advocate in Durban from the end of 1990. In 1995, she was appointed as a member of the Judge White Commission by the then President Mandela. In 1999, Justice Theron was appointed as a Judge of the High Court of South Africa. At the age of 32, she was the youngest judge in the country and the first black female judge to be appointed in her province. She was later appointed to the Supreme Court of Appeal and, since 2017, has served as a Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the highest court in the country.
Justice Theron is well-known for her leading judgments and, in particular, for her fierce defense of women’s rights. Whilst at the Supreme Court of Appeal, she wrote a powerful dissent in State v Nkomo, which emphasized the need for courts to be mindful of their duty to protect the equality, dignity and freedom of women.
Justice Theron is active in her community and is a founding member of the South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges. She has received numerous awards for her contribution to the development of justice in South Africa.