JSC battles to fill ConCourt vacancy

2012-03-08 09:18

The Constitutional Court will likely have to go without an eleventh judge until October, because of a lack of interest in the open position on the top court’s bench.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) this morning released the shortlist for nominations for vacant judicial positions, which confirmed the open Constitutional Court position will not be filled because the JSC had “received an insufficient number of appropriate nominations”.

Dumisa Ntsebeza, JSC spokesperson, said the JSC sifting committee “does not shortlist candidates simply because they are there ... the JSC has to satisfy themselves that the candidates are suitably qualified”.

The Constitution requires the JSC to submit a shortlist to the President with three more appropriately qualified candidates than the number of open positions when it comes to judicial appointments to the Constitutional Court.

This would require the JSC to submit a list of four names for the current vacancy, but City Press understands that it could not fulfil this requirement because not all of the candidates were appropriately qualified.

The four nominations it received were those of Judge Robert Nugent of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Judge Ray Zondo of the Labour Court, Magistrate Thuli Betela of Port Elizabeth and Jonas Sibanyoni, an ANC MP.

Last week Beeld reported that Sibanyoni had a B.Iuris degree and was studying towards an LLB degree.

This is the second time the JSC has had to postpone and re-advertise the position on the Constitutional Court bench that was left open when former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo retired last year.

Early in February, the deadline was extended for two weeks because the JSC had only received three nominations.

It is now likely the JSC will wait until the next round of judicial appointments in October to fill the position.

Advertisements for judges on the benches of the North and South Gauteng High Court also failed to attract sufficient nominations, with only five suitably qualified candidates being shortlisted for six positions.

As expected, the shortlisted nominations for Judge President of the North and South Gauteng High Court are South Gauteng Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo, North Gauteng High Court Judge Francis Legodi and Judge Dunstan Mlambo, judge president of all the labour courts.

Legodi was also appointed by President Jacob Zuma to the commission of inquiry into the arms deal last year.

The Black Lawyers Association and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers both support Mojapelo’s nomination for judge president.

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