Patel is KZN Judge President

2011-10-26 00:00

The Judicial Services Commission’s recommendation of Judge Chiman Patel as the Judge President of KwaZulu Natal has been widely welcomed by the province’s legal fraternity.

The recommendation has to be approved by President Jacob Zuma.

The chairperson of the Pietermaritzburg Bar, Adrian Rall SC, said last night the bar has supported Patel’s candidature and is pleased by his appointment.

“We think he will make a very good judge president and we look forward to working with him,” he said.

The 63-year-old Patel fills the vacancy resulting from the death of the late Judge Herbert Msimang, who died in hospital in April this year after suffering a stroke.

Patel, who was the deputy judge president at the time, immediately took over the reins in an acting capacity.

He was chosen for the top post by the JSC in preference to KZN Judge Isaac Madondo and Judge Lusindiso Pakade, acting deputy judge president in the Eastern Cape.

Controversy erupted during the interview process when Judge Madondo was reported to have said the job should not go to an Indian because Indians are not as disadavantaged as Africans.

The leader of the Democratic Alliance in the KZN Legislature, Sizwe Mchunu, welcomed Patel’s historic appointment as the first Indian judge president in the country yesterday.

He said it had been disappointing to hear of the race card being used during the interview process.

However, Patel had dealt with this adequately himself when he said that “ I hope my Indianness is secondary to my ability to lead the division” and that he is “first and foremost a South African”, he added,

Mchunu said the province needs a judge president who believes in a transparent system and offers hope to the citizens of the province. “The judiciary is a crucial element and stands as the vanguard of our democracy.”

The other judges appointed in KZN are advocate Jacqueline Henriques, attorney Zaba Nkosi, and advocate Rashid Abdul Kader Vahed SC.

Sapa reports that the JSC remains concerned over the low number of women being nominated as judges.

The JSC also recommended Judge Khayelihle Kenneth Mthiyane as deputy president of the Supreme Court of Appeal; Glenn Goosen SC as Eastern Cape High Court judge; Buyiswa Majiki as Electoral Court judge; Johannes Daffue and Lepono Lekale as Free State High Court judges; Zolashe Lallie and advocate Hilary Rabkin-Naicker as Labour Court judges; Judge Ellem Jacob Francis, Tshifhiwa Maumele, Roland Sutherland SC and Mmonoa Teffo as high court judges in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Three positions in the Western Cape High Court were not filled as interviews were postponed.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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