Jappie gets warm welcome

2012-10-27 00:00

THE legal profession is delighted that Judge Achmat Jappie was yesterday officially recommended to be the new deputy judge president of KwaZulu-Natal.

“That’s the best news I’ve had all day,” Advocate Rajesh Choudree SC of Advocates for Transformation, exclaimed.

Ahditya Kissoon Singh SC, chairperson of the Society of Advocates of KwaZulu-Natal, said they welcomed the news and pledged their support to Jappie. “We wish him well for the future,” he said.

The deputy chairperson of the society, Avril Potgieter SC said the society was “thrilled”.

Its members had supported Jappie’s appointment, which The Witness predicted last week, because he was the most senior of the two judges who competed for the post.

ANC spokesperson Senzo Mkhize said they respected the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) decision and wished Jappie well. “We hope he will contribute meaningfully to the transformation of the judiciary and judicial system in KZN,” he said.

Only the SA Communist Party expressed “disappointment” that Jappie, and not Judge Isaac Madondo, was the favoured candidate.

Spokesperson Themba Mthembu said Jappie’s appointment “does not accommodate 80% of the population of KwaZulu-Natal”.

“We are disappointed that the JSC and the Department of Justice is not putting in an effort to see that there is transformation and that the judicial system reflects the demographics of KZN,” he said.

Choudree responded that it was “quite shocking” of the SACP to play the race card, and said many stalwarts of the organisation were not African. He said the JSC’s decision to support Jappie augurs well for transformation, for the profession, the judiciary and “especially the public” in KZN.

“He [Jappie] will be a very able lieutenant to the Judge President [Chiman Patel], as they largely share the same vision for the smooth running of the courts and the reduction of the backlog of cases.

“This can only enhance the confidence of the public in the judicial system,” Choudree said.

Contacted at a judicial conference he was attending in Gauteng, Jappie said the post of deputy judge president is “not ceremonial”, but involves a great deal of hard work.

There was much to be done in KZN in the face of a lack of infrastructure, he said, including too few judges in KZN, a need for more staff in the registrar’s office and problems concerning space.

He said he had responded to the SACP’s concerns during his interview with the JSC. “It is an important issue that can’t be ignored.”

Busani Mabunda, national president of the Black Lawyers Association, which had supported Madondo, did not want to comment.

Madondo said it was “not his day”, but repeated that he pledged his support to Jappie.

“I don’t bear anybody a grudge … It [the announcement] has lifted the burden that has been hanging over our shoulders of waiting and waiting.

“What I want is unity and to work together as colleagues,” Madondo said.

The JSC’s recommendations to the president in respect of the other provinces are: Advocate Murray Lowe, SC, and Buyiswa Majiki for the Eastern Cape High Court; Judge Dimpheletse Seun Stanley Moshidi and Judge Willem Wepener for the Electoral Court; Acting Judge President Basheer Waglay for the post of Judge President of the Labour Courts; Advocate David Stephanus Fourie, SC, as a Judge of the North and South Gauteng High Court; and in the Western Cape High Court the JSC recommended the appointments of Judith Innes Cloete, Mokgoatji Josiah Dolamo, Babalwa Pearl Mantame, and advocates Owen Lloyd Rogers, SC, and Ashton Schippers, SC.

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