Mogoeng displays magnanimity

2013-10-13 14:00

In the closing moments of the Judicial Service Commission’s interviews on Thursday, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng – no stranger to unfriendly media attention – greeted reporters and thanked them for criticism, which he said kept him on his feet. “Keep it up,” he said.

He had reason to be magnanimous: his handling of this round of judicial interviews was excellent.

Mogoeng handled the interviews deftly, placing gender transformation squarely before the commission by inquiring about the difficulties and discrimination that female lawyers suffered.

The chief justice asked the tough questions when necessary and protected candidates from what he considered unfair lines of questioning.

Given the controversy over Mogoeng’s recent speech about transformation, described in some quarters as racist, it was perhaps notable Mogoeng saved at least one pale male from being grilled over his “struggle credentials”.

Advocate Rean Strydom (SC) was asked by Black Lawyers Association president and commissioner Busani Mabunda what his contribution to the struggle had been and whether he had opposed apartheid.

But Mogoeng cut Mabunda short, saying he was “uncomfortable” with his line of questioning.

“You can probe up to a point, but you mustn’t begin to look like you are whipping a man,” said Mogoeng, adding that it could give rise to an unfortunate impression about Mabunda.

The chief justice also cut short Northern Cape Judge President Frans Kgomo when he was about to launch a harsh attack on Mziwonke Hinxa, a candidate for the Eastern Cape Bench.

Kgomo got as far as saying he would argue in closed deliberations that Hinxa “Had no idea...” before Mogoeng intervened on Hinxa’s behalf.

Mogoeng asked hard questions of two other candidates, one of whom admitted he had let a candidate attorney run his practice while he was acting as a judge and another who said he had received phone calls from judges asking for legal advice.

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