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Personal details

Johann Christiaan Kriegler was born in Pretoria in 1932. He is married and has six children and five grandchildren.

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Kriegler matriculated at King Edward Vll School in Johannesburg in 1949. He then attended the South African Military Academy for two years, after which he acted as a judge's clerk while studying law at the University of Pretoria and the University of South Africa. He obtained his LLB degree in 1958.

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Professional history

Kriegler was called to the Johannesburg Bar in 1959.

For the next five years he built an extensive litigation practice, counting among his clients several leading figures of widely differing persuasions. These included Breyten Breytenbach, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Church of Scientology, Lucas Mangope, Beyers Naude, Eschel Rhoodie and Eugene Terre'Blanche.

During this period he also served as the chairperson (on three occasions) and as the secretary of the Johannesburg Bar Council, and as the secretary of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa. He took silk in 1972.

During his years at the Bar he was actively involved in the promotion of human rights and the development of institutions for their defence. He drafted the constitution of the Christian Institute, became the national president of Verligte Aksie and was the founding chairperson of Lawyers for Human Rights.

For some years he served on the Transvaal board of the Urban Foundation and from 1978 to 1988 was a founding trustee of the Legal Resources Centre.

Between 1976 and 1983 Kriegler served intermittently as an acting judge and in 1984 was appointed to the Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court. Between 1990 and 1993 he acted in the Appellate Division and was permanently appointed to the Bench there in 1993.

In December 1993 he was appointed chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, whose task it was to deliver South Africa's first elections based on universal adult suffrage.

In July 1994 he was appointed chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into Unrest in Prisons.

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Other activities

Kriegler is an authority on criminal procedure and in 1993 wrote the 5th edition of Hiemstra's Suid-Afrikaanse Strafproses. He is a board member of the University of South Africa's Law Faculty, a board member of the University of Pretoria Institute of Human Rights Studies and a trustee of a number of charitable trusts.

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