'I believe I can make a contribution to the Court as a woman judge,' says ConCourt candidate

The Constitutional Court. (Ciaran Ryan, GroundUp)
The Constitutional Court. (Ciaran Ryan, GroundUp)
  • The Judicial Service Commission is interviewing Constitutional Court candidates. 
  • One of the candidates, Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane said she believes she can contribute to transforming society through the Constitution. 
  • Another candidate, Alan Dodson SC told the panel of commissioners that he would bring a wide range of experience should he be appointed. 

Constitutional Court candidate judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane has told the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that she believes she can contribute to transforming society through the Constitution and the work done at the court.

"I believe I can make a contribution to the Court as a woman judge, and I can set an example as a woman judge," she stressed.

Kathree-Setiloane was one of the researchers appointed at the start of the ConCourt.

She has also clerked for retired Judge Yvonne Mokgoro.

During the interview, when one of the commissioners, Thandazani Griffits Madonsela, said he had experienced Kathree-Setiloane as being cantankerous.

He said the judge appeared firm and tended to demand a lot from people, "... as if they must live up to your standards".

The judge said she has high standards, but added that it is to uphold the profession's integrity. She also said being a judge is very difficult.

But commissioner Julius Malema accused Kathree-Setiloane as being, "... condescending", adding she, "... treats juniors as kids.

"You don't take into consideration that the courts themselves, just the building and the benches are designed to intimidate, and when you come in a manner you are coming... you are actually worsening the intimidation, and as a result, they are unable to express themselves and end up misrepresenting their clients."

The judge fired back, saying she will not accept that she is condescending to young people. "I am not condescending to my juniors," she said, adding that she shows compassion and helps build the youth. 

Earlier, the commissioners interviewed Advocate Alan Dodson SC who said he would bring a wide range of experience with him should he be appointed.

He also said one could not discount the 20 years he had spent in practice, half of those as senior counsel.

Dodson was the first nominee to be interviewed. The advocate was a judge of the Land Claims Court from 1995 to 2000.

He also served as an acting judge in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg and in the Labour Court.

Dodson also appeared in various courts, including the Constitutional Court, to argue cases.

He said: "It isn’t only experience sitting as a judge that prepares one for adjudication it is also working as counsel that prepares one for adjudication."

Malema asked why the commission should consider him, a white male over previously disadvantaged groups.

Malema also asked Dodson what made him special or unique and if appointing him will advance the transformation of the judiciary.

Replying, Dodson said he didn't believe that he was unique or special, but that transformation is not solely about demographics, but also about bringing a different adjudication style. He said transformation goes much wider.

"I believe that my experience can bring with it a style of adjudication that can be of assistance to the court," he said.

Dodson later told the commissioners that the greatest privilege of being a judge is to write a judgment. "For me, it is an extraordinary privilege for a human being to be able to take the law and apply it through an adjudication process to a particular set of facts. That was what I enjoyed so much about the work on the Land Claims Court." 

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