Positive reaction to recommended judges, gender transformation takes centre stage

2013-10-10 16:15

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has concluded its October round of interviews and has announced the judges it will recommend to President Jacob Zuma for appointment.

Although the JSC interviews are usually accompanied by some controversy, initial reaction by legal sources to the current round of selections has been positive after gender transformation took centre stage at the interviews.

The JSC has in the past been criticised for lacking in commitment to gender transformation, but it has again managed to short-list 12 female candidates out of 21 for interviews this week.

The appointment of more female judges has been a priority for the JSC, because the transformation of South Africa’s judiciary in terms of gender has not kept pace with racial transformation.

Spokesperson Dumisa Ntsebeza announced that the JSC today recommended four candidates for appointment to the high courts in Johannesburg and Pretoria, three of them women.

Advocates Maria Jansen SC, Nicoline van Nieuwenhuizen and attorney Segopotje Mphahlele were all recommended for appointment.

All three women have acted extensively in the North Gauteng and South Gauteng high courts, where Judge President Dunstan Mlambo has led a drive to recruit acting female judges and to have them appointed.

Ntsebeza also announced that the JSC had recommended “the-aging-but-won’t-go-away” Advocate Albertus Bam SC.

Bam, who has been acting as a judge almost continuously for the past four years, was appearing before the commission for the fourth time.

He was afflicted with a rare virus, which attacked his nervous system. Commissioners joked that they had seen him progress from a wheelchair to a walking frame, then to crutches and, in this round, to a walking stick he “doesn’t use very often”.

“The commission felt that he is a workhorse ... He had put in more hours acting than anybody.”

The commission also appointed Ms Nolwazi Boqwana to the Western Cape High Court.

City Press understands that Boqwana narrowly beat out attorney Kate Savage, who was also popular with commissioners.

There was, however, only a single vacancy to be filled on the Western Cape High Court’s bench.

Advocate Igna Stretch SC was appointed to the Eastern Cape High Court in Bhisho with “overwhelming support”, said Ntsebeza.

In the Free State High Court, Somaganthie Naidoo was appointed to the single vacancy.

Ntsebeza said the appointment of a further male judge to the division would be contrary to the JSC’s constitutional duty to transform the judiciary.

Although Naidoo is from KwaZulu-Natal, she had been invited to act in Bloemfontein and was willing to relocate.

Judge Pule Tlaletsi was appointed as deputy judge president of the Labour Court and Piet Shai was appointed as a judge of the Labour Court.

Sungaree Pather was appointed to the Electoral Court.

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