Slow gender transformation in judiciary

2013-04-21 09:41

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Johannesburg - African women make less than one percent of the senior counsel in the legal profession in South Africa, the Sunday Times reported.

Of the 473 senior counsel from whose ranks candidate judges are selected, only nine were black women, the newspaper reported. Of the nine women, only four were African.

Twenty white women were practising as senior counsel in South Africa, the newspaper reported.

A paper prepared by the University of Cape Town's democratic governance and rights unit lashed at the Judicial Service Commission for the slow pace of gender transformation in the judiciary, it was reported.

The paper said only 28% of judicial officers nationally, were women by October 2012.

'Scandal'

JSC spokesperson Dumisa Ntsebeza told the Sunday Times that government was failing black and female advocates by not giving them enough work to allow them to get experience and be considered for appointment as senior counsel.

"It's a scandal that we should have only four black female silks in this day and age," Ntsebeza was quoted.

"There is no political will on the part of our government. You can't ask private industry to start briefing us, but you can insist [that] the state law adviser briefs black advocates," he said.

Jacob Skosana head of policy in the department of justice said the Legal Practice Bill which proposed radical change in the legal profession would address the problem.

"Access to the profession is controlled by those who are within the club and whether you pass exams or not, there are people who decide who gets admitted [as senior counsel]," said Skosana.

Read more on:    jsc  |  judiciary

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