Transformation a 'juggling act' - Mogoeng

2012-10-26 12:22
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (File Beeld)

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (File Beeld)

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Johannesburg - Transformation of the judiciary is an ongoing "juggling act" to meet constitutional objectives and appoint people who can carry out judicial functions effectively, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said on Friday.

"Transformation is no longer about appointing black people and women to the judiciary - there are added factors," Mogoeng said at a media briefing in Pretoria on candidates recommended to fill high court vacancies.

There had been progress since 1994, where the breakdown had changed from, for example, 160 white judges out of a total of 165.

No guarantees

Now there were 237 judges - 71 of them black males, 27 black females, 16 coloured males, eight coloured females, 13 Indian males, 12 Indian females, 71 white male judges and 20 white female judges.

"We can't say now we have made progress, we can relax and not proceed with the necessary oomph... there is no room for complacency," he said.

Section 141 of the Constitution required that people appointed must be "fit and proper", able to deliver justice effectively and quickly, he continued.

It was no longer the case that a good human rights track record was a guarantor of a place on the bench, or that the black candidate with a good human rights record was guaranteed an appointment.

There could be a candidate who had belonged to a secret organisation and an investigation could be made as to "what decisive break with the activities of the past" that person had made, he said.

"So we juggle these things."

At the same time, candidates also needed opportunities to grow, and "a level playing field", hence the judicial education seminar he would be addressing later on Friday.

He had also managed to secure the mentoring services of retired judges to help groom young advocates and attorneys.

Gauntlett left out

On board so far were retired judges Kate O'Regan, Arthur Chaskalson, Yvonne Mokgoro and Ian Farlam, currently running the commission of inquiry into the shooting of 34 people at Lonmin Platinum in August.

Fielding questions on why advocate Jeremy Gauntlett had again failed to secure a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of Appeals, he said that would not be discussed at the press conference.

A formal request for reasons could be made for Gauntlett by another judge, and Mogoeng would check with Gauntlett if he was happy with the reasons given.

He defended the judges' selection process, saying that the Judicial Service Commission discussion on candidates after they had been interviewed was very open, and that they usually agreed with the candidates chosen.

Mogoeng said he had never been subjected to any political interference during the appointment processes and welcomed any "substantiated allegations" in this regard which could be investigated.
- SAPA
Read more on:    constitutional court  |  mogoeng mogoeng  |  jeremy gauntlett  |  judiciary
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