Transformation a 'juggling act' - Mogoeng

2012-10-26 12:22

Johannesburg - Transformation of the judiciary is an ongoing "juggling act" to meet constitutional objectives and appoint people who can carry out judicial functions effectively, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said on Friday.

"Transformation is no longer about appointing black people and women to the judiciary - there are added factors," Mogoeng said at a media briefing in Pretoria on candidates recommended to fill high court vacancies.

There had been progress since 1994, where the breakdown had changed from, for example, 160 white judges out of a total of 165.

No guarantees

Now there were 237 judges - 71 of them black males, 27 black females, 16 coloured males, eight coloured females, 13 Indian males, 12 Indian females, 71 white male judges and 20 white female judges.

"We can't say now we have made progress, we can relax and not proceed with the necessary oomph... there is no room for complacency," he said.

Section 141 of the Constitution required that people appointed must be "fit and proper", able to deliver justice effectively and quickly, he continued.

It was no longer the case that a good human rights track record was a guarantor of a place on the bench, or that the black candidate with a good human rights record was guaranteed an appointment.

There could be a candidate who had belonged to a secret organisation and an investigation could be made as to "what decisive break with the activities of the past" that person had made, he said.

"So we juggle these things."

At the same time, candidates also needed opportunities to grow, and "a level playing field", hence the judicial education seminar he would be addressing later on Friday.

He had also managed to secure the mentoring services of retired judges to help groom young advocates and attorneys.

Gauntlett left out

On board so far were retired judges Kate O'Regan, Arthur Chaskalson, Yvonne Mokgoro and Ian Farlam, currently running the commission of inquiry into the shooting of 34 people at Lonmin Platinum in August.

Fielding questions on why advocate Jeremy Gauntlett had again failed to secure a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of Appeals, he said that would not be discussed at the press conference.

A formal request for reasons could be made for Gauntlett by another judge, and Mogoeng would check with Gauntlett if he was happy with the reasons given.

He defended the judges' selection process, saying that the Judicial Service Commission discussion on candidates after they had been interviewed was very open, and that they usually agreed with the candidates chosen.

Mogoeng said he had never been subjected to any political interference during the appointment processes and welcomed any "substantiated allegations" in this regard which could be investigated.

  • parys.fotograaf - 2012-10-26 12:32

    Only when we go back to a jury system and common law, being judged by your own piers, will human beings see justice again. Judges, lawyers, attorneys, the whole lot are creatures of the state and not of the people.

      bruce.williams.1044186 - 2012-10-26 13:21

      Politics is a juggling act in this country for our government.

      lsfreak - 2012-10-26 13:30

      Isn't the same guy that was appointed to do cANCer's bidding :/

      christi.roestorff - 2012-10-26 15:22

      You think we have chaos now, a jury system will destroy all that's left!

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-10-26 12:47

    Jeremy Gauntlett won't walk on Radebe's leash. That's why he is not chosen.

      thato.matsio - 2012-11-11 08:01

      and the others would do? How do u know this?pls substantiate yourself.

  • Andrea - 2012-10-26 12:59

    "So we juggle these things." Yeah, you juggle your cadres into those bench and the others out of jail. These positions should have absolutely NOTHING to do with colour and EVERYTHING to do with knowledge and experience.

  • Kalari - 2012-10-26 13:06

    Balanced view. Mogoeng is doing better than I expected. Did not hear about serious mishaps.

  • - 2012-10-26 13:07

    "Juggling act"??? At least he is admitting that the government is a circus!

      Billy - 2012-10-26 13:32

      these clowns better not drop a ball, they must be experts by now

  • erich.goosen - 2012-10-26 13:19

    To overlook the qualities of a judicial giant such as Jeremy Gauntlet clearly again shows the bias of the JSC. Their reluctance to take Hlope JP to task bears tesitmony of this. If transformation means that candidates of colour should be mass produced one can expect that our judicial system will go down the drain. If they (JSC) can only accept the fact that most newly appointed judges are in dire need of the guidance and tutorship of experienced advocates and judges, the (up to recent) high level of judicial jurisprudence could be retained. The JSC is a political tool and with certain exceptions, loaded with legal people who act as His Master's Voice.

      thato.matsio - 2012-11-11 08:06

      Does not mean he is the best for this position. He might be technically excellent, but there are other traits that is considered for this position. Maybe we should first investigate the criteria used before we comment

  • koos.vandermerwe.75 - 2012-10-26 13:19

    In the last few years I've have learned a few valuable lessons and I'm not joking. If you find out you have a black judge or magistrate hearing your case, get yourself a black lawyer. If it is a white magistrate or a white judge get a white lawyer. Haven't appeared in front of an Indian judge yet. Personally I have a very very very low opinion of lawyers in general but if you have to appear in court you might as well make it easy on yourself right? Interested to hear if anyone else have experienced this?

      christi.roestorff - 2012-10-26 15:19

      This is not unique to SA, in jurisprudence it can be explained through the theory of 'inarticulate major premise'. Makes for interesting study!

  • erich.goosen - 2012-10-26 13:27

    The dictionary describes 'juggle' as 'to keep up throwing in the air and cathing a number of objects'. The learned Chief Justice has in the past made name with ambiquous statements and I am not sure what he means this time. My experience with jugglers is that (especially the not so good ones) keep dropping objects and I can identify with this view. The main difference, however, is that when dropped 'objects' refer to judges appointed who do not make the grade, the whole act can end in disaster.

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