JSC recommends 5 candidates as Constitutional Court judges

2019-04-04 12:42
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (File, Daily Sun)

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (File, Daily Sun)

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The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has recommended five candidates to President Cyril Ramaphosa for vacancies on the Constitutional Court Bench.

The decision was announced on Wednesday following interviews. 

The five candidates are Judge Annali Basson, Western Cape Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath, former South African Human Rights Commission head Jody Kollapen, Judge Stevan Majiedt and Judge Zukisa Tshiqi.

During interviews on Wednesday, Basson stressed the importance of her academic experience, saying this could help her in certain matters. The 59-year-old High Court judge graduated cum laude from the University of Pretoria in 1984 with an LLB and then obtained an LLD from Unisa.

She was also a professor of mercantile law at Unisa for 15 years.

READ: 'Potential conflict of interest' delays ConCourt interviews - report

When asked by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng why she thought she deserved to be appointed, Basson said she believed she had both practical experience and academic nous.

"I believe that I have many years of practical experience, spanning back to the late 80s. I believe that my academic background can assist me in dealing with very complex matters, because one has to remember that, when you deal with constitutional matter, sometimes it's not per se a constitutional matter. You have to be au fait with all the branches of the law."

Goliath, who ran her own law firm for around 15 years, has spent a year acting in the Constitutional Court.

She has presided over several high-profile cases in recent years, including the Anene Booysen rape and murder trial.

Goliath also convicted artist Zwelethu Mthethwa of killing sex worker Nokuphila Kumalo. Similar to Basson, Goliath emphasised her cumulative experience, as well as the work she had done to empower women.

She said she had dealt with a broad range of matters as a judge. When asked about the separation of powers, Goliath said the "judiciary is the ultimate guardian of our Constitution".

She added that the judiciary "has an oversight function over the other two arms of state".

Core skills

Kollapen, probably the most well-known candidate - to the public at least - was asked about his relative lack of experience soon after sitting down to be interviewed.

Responding to Judge Azhar Cachalia, Kollapen said that, "even in the absence of one's experience in a particular area of law, one brings to one's work certain core skills that you must apply in any case".

He added that being a judge was an "ongoing process of learning". This is Kollapen's second attempt for a Constitutional Court appointment. He was unsuccessful during a previous application in 2017.

He has served two terms in the Constitutional Court and during this time, penned a majority judgment in a case involving AfriForum.

It related to having Afrikaans used as the main medium of instruction at the University of Pretoria.

Kollapen, on the issue of social cohesion, said dealing with racism after an incident was polarising and meant an opportunity for meaningful dialogue was lost.

Read more on:    judiciary  |  courts

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