News24

Judges oppose plan to declare interests

2012-01-27 10:40

Johannesburg - South Africa's top judges oppose Justice Minister Jeff Radebe's plans to make them declare their financial interests, The Times reported on Friday.

In Parliament on Thursday, Judge President of the Gauteng division of the High Court Bernard Ngoepe and Supreme Court of Appeal judge Robert Nugent said over 200 judges opposed the draft regulations.

The regulations could make them disclose their assets and business interests, and those of their families as part of Radebe's judicial reforms.

Department of justice official JB Skhosana said judges were currently under no obligation to declare their business interests because the law providing for this was passed in 2010 and the required regulations were being worked on now.

The judges said there was no evidence to support the introduction of the regulations as there had only been one sitting judge found to have carried out questionable financial practices.

Nugent said disclosure of the financial and business interests of their families was an "irrational intrusion" of privacy and they would take this to the Constitutional Court if the draft was adopted.

Judges would support declarations made by sitting judges, with the Chief Justice controlling access to the register.

ANC MP and ad hoc committee chairperson Amos Matila said the proposal was being rejected because some within the judiciary could not explain their wealth.

Ngoepe said some senior counsel acted as judges and this might discourage them from doing so.

Comments
  • Joe - 2012-01-27 10:45

    So if you've got nothing to hide, whats the problem?

      Sean - 2012-01-27 11:17

      They are all a bunch of criminals !!!

      ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-01-27 11:49

      Exactly what's to hide?

      Sean - 2012-01-27 15:17

      This is so hypocritical of government! Seems like its being used as a way for the executive to put pressure or control the judiciary?

  • Godfrey - 2012-01-27 10:46

    If you have nothing to hide then what is the problem with the declaration? Sorry, Judges, but I support the government on this one.

      ubhejane - 2012-01-27 10:54

      Absolutely! If they can hide assets and business transactions, what hope do have ever getting the corruption under control? The corruption of government officials all vest in their families. That is how the tenders work. Get your cousin to front for you. What is good for the goose......

  • Sharon - 2012-01-27 10:52

    Unexplained wealth ...............we been having it ...........bribes thats where it comes from......do u think we are stupid

  • Shirley - 2012-01-27 10:54

    Those who are afraid of transparency are hiding something!If this law applied to all state officials/judges etc we would see just how deep the rot is!

  • StarStruck - 2012-01-27 10:55

    This is actually a very tough one. I am certain that these judges have incredible wealth and disclosing it would make them targets. On the other hand they are still lawyers and they are criminals, well most of them.

      inwardk - 2012-01-27 14:00

      Not a hard call at all. A judge cannot be impartial if he has an interest in the outcome of a case. I am all for judges declaring their interests. Them becoming targets is a separate issue altogether.

  • Erich - 2012-01-27 11:06

    I find it perturbing that the ANC government is gradually interfering with the judicial system which is an attack on the independence of the judiciary. There are already provisions in place which can be used where judges are suspected of corruption, etc.

      Napolita - 2012-01-27 11:10

      How profound, Erich!

      Jymiro - 2012-01-27 11:37

      @Erich, this is now just becoming lament excuse to avoid accountability. I have been campaigning for the indepedence of the judiciary since time immemorial. It was the judges themselves who doscloed that Judge Hlophe did not declare his financial interest in Oasis. They petitioned him to be impeached. We all supported them because it is immoral for the judge not to declare his interest. This case has them led to a public calling for judges to declare their financial interest and not only getting a permission from the minister. This was a call from the public and not the ANC. At times lets move away from hate that we have against the ANC and face facts.

      Patsy - 2012-02-09 16:49

      It has already interfered wth the judicial system. The judiciary is no longer so independent. The provisions in place are seldom used, and in the future probably won't be used at all....

  • Phumi - 2012-01-27 11:09

    In this country only the Executives that call the shots and not the judges! If President Zuma can declare his interests I do not see why these reactionary judges should not do the same. We need to drag them kicking and screaming to do so and if needs be amend the constitution to make them to!

      Gerhard - 2012-01-27 11:16

      When did Zuma declare his interests? Please let me know, and where is the website.

  • Jymiro - 2012-01-27 11:11

    Its is being hypocritical of the judges not to what to declare their financial interest when theiy were the first to condemn Hlophe for non disclosue of his financial interest in Oasis. They started this themselves. I hope the legal academic led by professors from UCT will do the petition against these judges as they did against Hlophe. The stanrds of transparency must be the same for all public officeholders.

      Gerhard - 2012-01-27 11:17

      How dare you mention this criminal Judge Hlophe?

      Jymiro - 2012-01-27 11:42

      Your problem is that you have such a hate for Black people and in the process to lack logic and facts,I am unfortunately not. I was brought up to believe that we are all equal. You are not worthly my response. God help you.

      Johan - 2012-01-27 13:53

      I have to agree with you to a certain extend. It is double standards to fight the issue of disclosure yet try to hold Hlope accountable on the same issue. Be that as it may, if we say that Judges should be fit and propper to be appointed in the position it follows that disclosure and transparency are some of the basic principles to be aplied

  • Saksak Motsepe - 2012-01-27 11:15

    Even judges have something to hide.

      David - 2012-01-27 12:12

      Yes they do.A bottle of bells under the car seat.

      Chabi - 2012-01-27 20:49

      That's obvious, otherwise why do grown men wear dresses ?

  • Thapelo Mokomele - 2012-01-27 11:55

    It such a waste of time and money on a Law doesn't make sense. A Judge sole role is to hand down judgement on those who break the Law, and in sure that justice is fair and truth. Now with regards to the proposed Law it's cloverly, smartly Stupid. Only those who have a direct Interest can disclose the interest and it's those in Government because everything starts with defore it even put to Tender.

  • Mike - 2012-01-27 12:05

    Whoopsee, another can of worms about to open.

  • Gavin Jaar - 2012-01-27 12:05

    If they have nothing to hide,why oppose the plan?where does all the wealth came from then?

  • Falcovrod - 2012-01-27 12:05

    In that case we as the public, don't have to declare our own.....cool.

  • francois.visagie - 2012-01-27 12:32

    What a clever way of getting the judges to support the "protection" of information bill! :-(

      Cracker - 2012-01-27 15:01

      A very astute observation, with respect.

  • Vince.York - 2012-01-27 13:12

    Can any government state or provincial or council "servant of the people" explain their sudden super wealth openly and fully? Lifestyle audits for all of those, NOW, please! Ah, hang on, each investigation takes a couple of years so that all records and traces can be effectively lost or destroyed as in the flurry of paper shredding and burning in young Limpoopooh currently.

  • Johan - 2012-01-27 13:45

    Why not ? Whats the problem ?

  • Cracker - 2012-01-27 14:04

    ALL judicial officers must declare their interests. If you do not wish to make such declaration then don't any longer be a judge or magistrate. Nobody forces you to hold office. The same with politicians and other high flyers. If you don't like the public attention then retire to your solitude and safe backyard. We the citizens will not hold it against you.

  • Brett - 2012-01-27 14:42

    Surely SARS requires all taxpayers to disclose their financial interests. How else do you complete an annual tax return?

      Napolita - 2012-01-27 15:16

      Brett, by completing it incompletely ;)

  • SarelJBotha - 2012-01-27 17:19

    They must be forced to declare all there interests. Crucially they should declare where there pensionfunds are funded from and what part of it is underwrittenby the banking sector. Surely there could be huge conflict of interest if they have to ajudicate a case where firms they benefit from is involved. Furthermore all judges and magistrates should be forced to always make their oath of office part of the offical court record, by recoring such oaths into the record as evidence. Any person who does not wish to do this is nothing but an imposter and should be handled as such.

  • Gail - 2012-01-27 18:45

    Surely judges have had to come up through the study of law and the implementation thereof. Becoming a judge requires a recommendation from your peers and generally I would imagine that if you have been very successful in winning cases for large corporates as an advocte the paycheck is commensurate with your winning or losing in a court of law. If you then invest and handle your earnings cleverly throughout your life it would stand to reason that your wealth is your own affair as long as you are paying your taxes. It is possible of course that along the way corporates have paid you with shares in their company because they were grateful for services rendered which saved them from ruin. I am sure that as in any profession it is possible that financial interests were inherited from an equally successful line of family members who have attained great legal heights. My son is a brilliant young man and lawyer who through no contact and pure work ethic has attained the position of Senior Legal Counsel at barely 28 years of age. This comes with huge responsibility and as a mother I resent people who consider all legal or almost all legal professionals to be crooked. He speaks Mandarin and Arabic and French because he recognises the value. He also speaks Xhosa. Somehow I feel that this new law is an attempt to control the judiciary at the highest levels and is an invasion of their privacy and autonomy. Nobody should be above the law but the judiciary must remain independent.

      Cracker - 2012-01-27 23:16

      @ Gail Unfortunately other considerations equally or more important are at play here. Your son, although his brilliance would be welcome on the bench, is at liberty to decide that he would rather prefer to keep his affairs private than serve on the bench. We unfortunately live in a ROTTEN AN DISHONEST world. For the sake of some semblance of trust in our legal system we need full disclosure, and I really mean FULL disclosure. And it is no use to now hear that it was not required under apartheid blah blah blah. We must get full disclosure for plain practical reasons including that our most precious asset apart from our freedoms is our trust in the independence of the legal system. We should not get too pedantic about it. But the final and decisive thought about it is that if you don't want to reveal your interests then don't continue being a judge or magistrate and obviously don't aspire to become one. The general credibility of our judicial system in the eyes or the man-in-the-street is far more important for our survival than individual brilliance or personal preferences by judicial officers. For once even the most harsh critics of the ANC must agree with the ANC's notion of revelation and transparency as possible application to judges. Or do they (the ANC) know a few things we others don't?

  • Grant - 2012-01-28 10:20

    The ANC government should start with their own people. SARS should do lifestyle audits on the relatives of ANC members who suddenly aquire houses,farms etc when they've never paid tax in their lives. Don't even get me started on Malema...

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