JSC interviews: The good, bad and cringe-worthy

2014-10-08 21:30

Niren Tolsi

1. The Judicial Service Commission interviewed prospective judges for a position at the Eastern Cape High Court (Bhisho) and another at the Labour Court on the second day of its October sitting in Cape Town’s Twelve Apostles Hotel.

2. Historically, the candidates availing themselves for positions at the Eastern Cape division have ranged from inept through under-cooked to downright cringe-worthy. Such has been the poor quality of previous interviews that the commission has sometimes resembled a version of judicial speed-dating with some candidates’ interviews not lasting more than ten minutes.

3. During her interview today, advocate Chuma Cossie certainly fell into the cringe-worthy category with her assertion that national Parliament has sovereignty in South Africa’s Constitutional democracy. When advocate McCaps Motimele asked her, “Section Two of the Constitution refers to the supremacy of the Constitution, where do I find the sovereignty of Parliament?” Cossie muttered something about “semantics” before adding: “I don’t know where exactly to find that … The sovereignty of Parliament is common cause. Its trite.” Yeah, during apartheid maybe. Eish.

4. Magistrate Saardia Jacobs was back for her second interview for a position at the Eastern Cape High Court after having spent a few stints gaining acting experience. Commissioners appeared smitten by her feistiness during her October 2012 interview when she refused to concede an inch – especially on her lack of experience and assertion that there was little difference between the work of a magistrate and that of a judge. This time around, as feisty as ever, she did concede that the experience had been enriching, especially the “collegiality in the high court – something I had never been exposed to”.

5. Jacobs also admitted that the acting stints on the Eastern Cape Bench had “exposed me to work that I was never exposed to in the Magistrates’ Court”. A come-down – but one handled with grace and charm.

6. Despite Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng telling attorney Thembekile Malusi “I actually like you. I am impressed” it did come with the caveat that he go back to the Eastern Cape “embark on a serious cleaning up exercise” on a backlog of reserved judgments before availing himself again.

7. Malusi also had seven fines from the Law Society of South Africa in the space of two years.

8. Judge Nozuko Mjali broke down several times during an emotional interview where she was seeking a transfer from Mthatha to Bhisho – something the JSC does as often as commissioner Julius Malema smooches ANC leaders – for personal reasons. She didn’t get it, much to the chagrin of gender activists.

9. IFP MP Narend Singh, who replaced the party’s venerable Koos van der Merwe who retired earlier this year after serving since the very first post-1994 commission, seemed fixated around the scourge of drug use in South Africa – a topic that he engaged all candidates on. But he seemed to demonstrate a certain forgetfulness with his constant qualifications that he was “not a lawyer”. If the Honorouble Singh needed to constantly remind himself of the fact, one does wonder what he has been smoking.

10. Benita Whitcher was appointed to the Labour Court despite a fiery interview. But, it seems, the JSC can sometimes be unafraid of strong women.

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


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Hip Cape Town bars to discover this summer
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.