KZN judge president candidate reprimanded over joke

2015-04-13 13:58
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (File Beeld)

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (File Beeld)

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Cape Town- The lone candidate standing for the position of judge president in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court was taken to task on Monday for joking about female colleagues during his interview.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng had been asking KwaZulu-Natal Deputy Judge President Achmat Jappie questions during an interview by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in Cape Town on Monday morning.

"What have you done to intimidate your colleagues to get them out of the race?" Mogoeng had asked, seemingly in jest, in reference to the lack of competition for the post.

Charm

Jappie responded: "As far as the women are concerned, Chief Justice, I think I had charm."

While there was laughter in the room, it was not long before Jappie was reprimanded. Jappie said the question had been put to him in jest and he responded accordingly.

He said he did not think female representation was a matter that should be taken lightly, and it was something he had encouraged, and would continue to do.

"If you know the women judges of the KwaZulu-Natal benches, they are not easily intimidated, I can tell you that. And I can tell you that they are also not easily charmed. They are women on their own, very individualistic," he told the JSC.

He explained that 11 of the 29 judges in the province were female and that it was a challenge convincing women to serve on the bench.

"When you ask them, all of them have very lucrative practices which they do not want to give up. In the past, I have ensured that whenever acting appointments are made, that at least one is a woman."

The solution was to make the bench a conducive place for them to work. He said he had no problem withdrawing his comment and apologised unequivocally.

Improving conditions

Jappie was asked how he would improve conditions in the high court, including the state of cleanliness in the toilets.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha added that he had visited both the Durban and Pietermaritzburg courts and been told that windows had not been cleaned for 15 years. Jappie said a lot had been done to improve conditions already and that public works had employed six people to clean the public toilets.

The problem lay with the court manager not reprimanding cleaners for leaving at 11:00, and in co-ordinating efforts between the public works and justice departments.

EFF leader Julius Malema, a member of the JSC, criticised Jappie for talking about problems without giving solutions, and accused him of becoming complacent because he was the only candidate.

Jappie replied that he had identified problems to solve them. He believed a way to get around public works was to transfer such matters to the newly-established office of the Chief Justice department.

The JSC will this week interview 23 candidates for three judge president and four judge positions.

Read more on:    mogoeng mogoeng  |  julius malema  |  cape town  |  judiciary

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