SA public to have say on next chief justice, for the first time

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
  • Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's term will come to an end on 11 October. 
  • The public has until 1 October to send their nominations, following which a panel will shortlist between three and five candidates for President Cyril Ramaphosa's consideration.
  • Ramaphosa says he hopes the move will deepen the public's confidence in the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

In a first for the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the public to nominate South Africa's next chief justice to promote transparency.

But the clock is ticking as there is less than a month before the end of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's term, which ends on 11 October.

On Thursday, the Presidency announced anyone would able to nominate a candidate.

A nomination should be accompanied by an endorsement and support of at least one professional body of legal practitioners or NGOs working in the field of human rights or other legal areas.

"Nominations should set out the reasons why the nominee is deemed suitable to be the next chief justice, their experience both as a legal practitioner, including any experience as a judge and as a leader," it said.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA ? JUNE 22, 2017: Chief Jus
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. (Sandile Ndlovu/Gallo Images)

The public has until 1 October to submit their applications to and with the following documentation:

  • A nomination letter, including the contact details of the nominator.
  • The nominee's acceptance of the nomination and their contact details.
  • Letters of support for the nomination, including contact details of persons or entities that support the nomination, including at least one letter of support from a professional body of legal practitioners, or NGOs working in the field of human rights, or other legal field.
  • Any additional documentation that the person nominating the candidate for chief justice deems relevant.

All nominations will be made public on the Presidency's website, and any objections should be sent in writing by 15 October.

A panel chaired by Navi Pillay, the former International Court of Justice judge and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, will then shortlist between three and five candidates for the president's consideration. 

READ HERE | Will the new Chief Justice be the most important appointment since 1994?

The panel also includes Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, former justice minister Jeff Radebe, former Public Protector advocate Thuli Madonsela, SA National Aids Council co-chairperson Mmapaseka Steve Letsike, and Professor Ziyad Motala of the Howard University School of Law. 

"The president will decide which candidates from the shortlist presented to him by the panel of eminent persons to refer to the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly for consultation, as required by the Constitution, before appointing the new chief justice," said the Presidency. 

Ramaphosa added he hoped the process would deepen the public's confidence in the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

"The chief justice occupies a vital position in our democratic constitutional order. It is therefore appropriate that all South Africans should have an opportunity to witness and participate in the selection of the next chief justice," he said.

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