The Judicial Service Commission has disavowed any involvement with a widely circulated "shortlist" that purports to contain the names of the judges vying for appointment to the Constitutional Court.
The list contains the names of some of South Africa's most high-profile judges – including Pretoria High Court Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba and Judges David Unterhalter, Jody Kollapen, Dhaya Pillay, Yasmin Meer and Bashir Vally – and has already been the subject of fierce social media debate and misinformation.
Several of the judges on the list, including Ledwaba, Pillay and Vally, have been attacked over rulings they have given against former president Jacob Zuma.
Tweets posted on Tuesday night also pointed out that Unterhalter represented President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Marikana commission of inquiry.
But the JSC, which oversees the process by which judges are interviewed and recommended for particular positions, says the list "was not circulated by the JSC".
"The list that is circulating is not the shortlist compiled by the JSC," the commission's spokesperson, Sello Chiloane, told News24.
"The Screening Committee of the JSC, tasked with compiling a shortlist of candidates to be interviewed by the JSC, will have its meeting at the end of the January 2021. It is only after this meeting that a shortlist will be published. Shortlisted candidates would be interviewed at the JSC sitting scheduled to take place on 12 to 23 April 2021."
He declined to comment on the possible source of the shortlist, which appears to contain the names of a number of judges who have, in fact, applied for the vacant Constitutional Court post. The JSC has also shied away from describing the list as "fake", suggesting that it may have been leaked prematurely.
While Ramaphosa appointed Justices Zukisa Tshiqi and Stevan Majiedt to the Constitutional Court in September 2019, the drama surrounding the "shortlist" of his potential choices already suggests that his pending appointments to the country's highest court will be far more contentious.
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