Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke held no punches during his valedictory remarks as outgoing chancellor of Wits University.
In a scathing attack on former president Jacob Zuma, Moseneke said: "We went to sleep for 10 years (the duration of Zuma's presidency) and institutions were hollowed out."
"We all lost the guts to tell a bumbling fool who was sitting out there, acting as a president, [to tell him that] he is a fool, [to] tell him he's incapable of doing the high ideals of our liberation struggle. As we failed to do that, we actually allowed so much devastation and poor people became poorer."
Moseneke spoke at a special farewell ceremony held on the Library Lawns of the university on Wednesday.
The retired Constitutional Court justice, known for strong moral principles and noble-mindedness, served two six-year terms as chancellor at Wits since 2006, ending in October this year, according to the university.
Zuma's tenure as head of state has become synonymous with allegations of grand-scale corruption and state capture.
This week, the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture heard how Zuma allegedly used his political influence to benefit the now-infamous Gupta family. This included making high-level political appointments at the cost of the economy.
On Tuesday, Zuma said he "decided to resign before my term ended to save the ANC".
He was speaking to more than a thousand residents of Bhobhoyi, in Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal, at a provincial ANC election campaign event.
"The ANC NEC (national executive committee) told me to resign as president and they could not provide me with reasons when I asked them. I decided to save the ANC and I resigned. I saw that this would lead us into a forest and we would fight among ourselves," he said.
On Friday, Zuma made yet another appearance for corruption-related charges in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg.
Zuma is facing 16 charges of fraud, money laundering, corruption and racketeering linked to 783 payments that French company Thales allegedly made to him in connection with the infamous arms deal.