GCB questions Mpshe appointment
Johannesburg - The General Council of the Bar of SA on Wednesday called on the justice minister to put Mokotedi Mpshe's appointment as an acting judge on hold amid concerns over the independence of the judiciary.
"The General Council of the Bar of SA ("GCB") has learnt with dismay and concern that the Minister of Justice... has appointed Adv Mpshe, a state employee, to act as a judge," said GCB chairperson Patric Mtsaulana.
At a heads of court meeting in October 2008, the council expressed concerns about the appointment of state employees such as members of staff of the State Attorney's office, the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority, as acting judges.
Mpshe was the acting National Director of Public Prosecutions while Vusi Pikoli was suspended and later fired.
Mpshe was then appointed to act in the North West High Court, Mafikeng between February 1 to July 31, 2010.
The council said the then chief justice had promised to place the matter on the agenda of the meeting of the heads of court and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
State employees acting as judges
The council believed that the JSC had decided against state employees acting as judges.
"In the light of the above the GCB calls on the minister to withdraw, or at least suspend, the appointment of Adv Mpshe as an acting judge pending verification by him of the above."
They had also not yet received a reply to a letter on the subject written to the justice minister this year.
"The GCB believes very strongly that the employment of state employees as acting judges undermines the independence of the judiciary."
Pikoli was eventually fired, and Mpshe was succeeded by Menzi Simelane.
Simelane's position is being challenged by the Democratic Alliance.