Commission wants Mlambo appointed to head North and South Gauteng High Courts

2012-04-24 13:17

The Judicial Service Commission has recommended that President Jacob Zuma appoint Judge President Dunstan Mlambo as the new head of the North and South Gauteng High Courts.

The announcement was made today, after interviews for various judicial vacancies around the country were held in Cape Town last week.

Mlambo, who is judge president of the Labour Courts, was up against Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo of the South Gauteng High Court and Judge Frans Legodi.

During his interview, Mojapelo was grilled by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe for over ten minutes about an article he had written in the Sunday Times.

The article was critical of the appointment of former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, because no public consultation was conducted before the president announced his candidate.

“Do you think it is appropriate for a judge to descend to the level of a politician and make public statements?” asked Radebe.

Mojapelo explained that the article was not a critique of any particular decision, but rather an explanation of the procedures of the JSC as he understood them.

Mojapelo, who served on the JSC at the time of the appointment of the country’s first chief justice, said he thought he “needed to contribute toward an environment where the appointment to the office of the chief justice is not clouded in controversy”.

In contrast, Radebe asked Mlambo a series of questions which tended to emphasise his achievements.

This contrast, combined with the fact that Kgomo’s interview only lasted about half as long as the other candidates, has fuelled speculation in legal circles that the appointment was a predetermined “political choice”.

In its media statement, the JSC also “urges competent and appropriately qualified candidates to consider making themselves available so as to build a judiciary that all South Africans would be proud of”.

This comes after the JSC’s sifting committee could only identify five advocates to interview for six positions on the bench.

Only three of these candidates were recommended for appointment.

The JSC has also failed to attract enough nominations for a position on the bench of the Constitutional Court.

The JSC also recommended that the President appoint Judges Xola Petse and Ronnie Pillay to the bench of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

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