Judge Dhayanithie Pillay is a defender of human rights and an expert in labour law.
She was appointed a Commissioner of South Africa’s Electoral Commission in November 2018 for a seven-year term.
Judge Pillay serves as a judge of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. Before this she was a judge of the Labour Court of South Africa for 10 years until 2010.
Admitted as an attorney in 1982, Pillay was drawn to the plight of political detainees, specialising in human rights and administrative law disputes arising from the various emergency and security laws in force at the time. She was recognised as a human rights defender by the Amnesty International SA Durban Group in 2005.
After turning to labour law and industrial relations, Judge Pillay was selected to be involved in the drafting of key pieces of national legislation, including the Public Service Labour Relations Act, the new Labour Relations Act, and clauses of the Constitution relating to the Public Service Commission and Electoral Commission. She was a Senior Commissioner (part-time) of the CCMA since 1996 until her appointment to the bench.
Judge Pillay completed her BProc at Unisa in 1982 and an LLM from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 1993. She was a member of the ANC until appointed to the bench. She obtained a doctorate in law (LLD) in April 2020 from the University of Pretoria; her thesis focused on adjudication and legal theory.
As a recognised scholar, Judge Pillay has been a visiting fellow or scholar at the New York University, Oxford University, University of Pretoria and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.