Ntsebeza: Smuts was right to quit JSC

2013-04-15 12:00
(Picture: <a href=\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Izak Smuts, the senior advocate who quit the Judicial Service Commission amid disagreement about transformation, was right to resign, a spokesperson said on Monday.

"If you find the institution to which you belong is doing things in a way that is so untenable, then the best thing for you is to leave that institution," advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza told SAfm.

"He has done what I think is the correct thing to do in the circumstances."

Smuts resigned from the JSC last week amid disagreement on the transformation of the Bench. Smuts, who was appointed to represent the advocates' profession in 2009, had been critical of the JSC for overlooking white men for judicial appointments.

His discussion paper was titled "Transformation and the Judicial Service Commission", and in it he complained that white males were being unfairly overlooked for judicial appointment.

Scathing attack

He reportedly said there existed "a very real perception in certain quarters that the JSC is, in general, set against the appointment of white male candidates except in exceptional circumstances".

In a statement handed to reporters shortly after the JSC concluded interviews for aspirant judges, Smuts launched a scathing attack on the commission, similar to comments he made on transformation in the document handed to the JSC earlier in the week.

Ntsebeza said when Smuts was asked why he was resigning, he said "for obvious reasons", but said nothing about the document.

"I suppose in the context of what had been happening during the week, he understood what the obvious reasons were and he expected us to understand what his reasons were," he said.

"But what he didn't say and what he didn't distribute at that very moment when he was announcing his resignation was this two page statement in which he had stated the reasons and the basis on which he was resigning."

In the statement, which was issued on Friday, Smuts described the track record of the JSC, during the few years he served on it, as disturbing, and said the commission's image had been tarnished.

No apologies for document

Smuts told SAfm he stood by his decision to distribute his document on transformation in the judiciary.

"To suggest that I was not entitled to circulate a document which I prepared is laughable, the JSC doesn't own me. It was a discussion document, it was intended to reflect existing debates and to get them to focus on the matter."

Smuts said he had written the paper to get the JSC to ask itself if it was doing what the Constitution required of it. He said he would not apologise for writing the document, but rather for circulating it before the JSC could discuss it.

"I certainly did not apologise for the document. I believe in freedom of speech, that I was entitled and am entitled to distribute any document which I generate."

‘JSC rejected some of SA’s finest minds’

Smuts said it was unfortunate the debate had become exclusively racial.

"It's not just about white males. On a number of occasions the commission has failed to appoint or promote extremely talented individuals or independent-minded candidates. The debate has far more nuances than simply a racial one."

The JSC did not appoint the best available, Smuts said.

"The government... does not like independent judiciaries that hold them to account, and if you appoint less independent-minded individuals you can hope that you get fewer unfavourable judgments against you.

"The JSC has rejected some of the finest legal minds in this country and that's deeply disturbing," he said.
Read more on:    jsc  |  dumisa ntsebeza  |  izak smuts  |  judiciary

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.