Judge president post: Jappie, Madondo to be interviewed

2012-10-15 00:00

KWAZULU-Natal’s spotlight will this week shine on two of the province’s judges, Judge Achmat Jappie and Judge Isaac Madondo, who will be interviewed by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) for the post of deputy judge president.

Earlier this year the JSC found itself unable to make a recommendation for the post which at the time was contested by Judge Madondo and Judge Fikile Mokgohloa.

The Witness has confirmed that Jappie and Madondo are due to appear before the JSC panel tomorrow (Tuesday) for their interviews.

Jappie, who studied law at the University of Durban Westville, is the most senior of the two, having been appointed to the Bench in KwaZulu-Natal in 1998.

In 2007 he was appointed as a judge of the Labour Appeal Court.

Jappie practised as an advocate in KZN from 1980 until 1998, and was a member of the KZN Bar Council from 1987 to 1990.

He was a member of the Hoexter Commission, which dealt with rationalisation and restructuring of the Supreme Court of SA, a member of the National Board of Examiners for the General Council of the Bar, lectured to aspirant judges between 2002 and 2007 and is a member of the council of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has been chairperson of the Integrated Provincial Justice Forum since 2004.

Judge Madondo, who enjoys the support of the Black Lawyers Association, practised as an advocate in Pietermaritzburg from 1991 until his appointment as a judge in 2007.

He found himself at the centre of controversy last year for comments when he applied for the post of judge president, which subsequently went to Judge Chiman Patel.

Madondo later told The Witness in an interview that he felt “haunted” by the remarks which had been misinterpreted in the media as being anti-Indian, an allegation he strenuously denies.

Jappie is believed to enjoy the most widespread support within the KZN legal fraternity, with very few exceptions.

Chairperson of Advocates for Transformation in KZN, Rajesh Choudree SC, confirmed that they have endorsed the appointment of Judge Jappie, who on balance was felt to be the better and more experienced candidate.

“He’s self-effacing, humble by nature and he has earned the respect of all who come before him in the public as well as the profession. He would probably have been judge president by now if he had chosen to put his hand in the ring,” he said.

Choudree added that Jappie has effectively been acting deputy judge president from the time that Judge Chiman Patel was appointed JP in KZN and has “acquitted himself with distinction”.

“The experience of Judge Jappie triumphs over Judge Madondo,” he said.

The KZN Society of Advocates declined to make a public statement concerning its preferred candidate at this stage.

Deputy chairperson of the society, Averil Potgieter SC, said the society’s submission has been put before the JSC by its national general council, but felt it could prejudice the process if it were to comment publicly.

“The society endorses the procedure followed by the JSC and will support the candidate that will be appointed to the position of deputy judge president,” he said.

The national president of the Black Lawyers Association, Busani Mabunda, confirmed that the BLA has thrown its weight behind the appointment of Judge Madondo for appointment as the deputy judge president. “We have not changed our stance,” he said.

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