Indians are black people too, judge candidate tells JSC

2015-10-08 15:16
(File, iStock)

(File, iStock)

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Cape Town - People of Indian origin should not be penalised in appointments to the bench in KwaZulu-Natal because of the perception that they already dominate in the province, the Judicial Service Commission heard on Thursday.

"We are hard working. Indians are black people as well, we have also been at the ends of injustice," said Judge Shyam Gyanda who is applying for the post of deputy judge president of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court.

This comes after EFF leader Julius Malema said there was the perception that people of Indian origin controlled everything in KZN, referring to it as the "Indian question".

Malema wanted to know whether it would be in line with the judiciary's commitment to transform if it were more representative of all race groups in KZN and instead, considered a black African person for the post.

But, said Gyanda: "If Indians are progressing, should they be penalised because of the progressiveness?"

Gyanda, who was a student activist with the likes of retired Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob, said he considered himself African.

"I am born in Africa. My parents are born in Africa. So why should I be treated differently because I am of Asiatic descent. I am an African."

Gyanda has 15 years experience as a judge and prides himself on helping improve efficiency in courts.

During proceedings he said one of the problems the judiciary faced in its attempts to woo more black candidates was the fact that many potential judges chose to stay in the lucrative private practice, rather than applying for the bench.

In an apparent misstep, Gyanda said the courts occasionally encountered a poor acting judge. In one instance he thought that a request by another judge to hire someone was political because the candidate was a relative of one of South Africa's royal families.

He withdrew the remark after objections that it was a serious slight on the independence of the judiciary.

The second candidate for the position, Judge Gregory Kruger, focused on ways he had streamlined courts and the steps he had taken to prevent "forum shopping" - a practice whereby lawyers try to get their case on to the roll of an empathetic judge.

One way Kruger had resolved this was by not putting names of judges on case allocation documents.

Read more on:    jsc  |  julius malema  |  judiciary

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