Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu-Natal's new deputy judge president, Isaac Madondo, believes the focus must be on making justice more accessible and affordable, particularly for rural communities.
Judge Madondo’s appointment was formally announced yesterday by President Jacob Zuma’s office.
Also appointed as new judges in KZN are Pietermaritzburg advocate Pieter Bezuidenhout SC and Durban attorney Mokgere Masipa.
Judge Fikile Mokgohloa, who was a judge in KZN for nearly a decade, takes up the post of deputy judge president of the Limpopo division in Polokwane, where she has been based since January this year.
Judge Madondo said he feels “great” about his appointment as deputy judge president following a number of disappointments when he was overlooked for top positions. He said he believes the controversy surrounding his interview when he stood against Judge Chiman Patel for the position of KZN judge president in 2011 has finally been put to rest.
“It is in the past now,” he said of the incident, which wrongly portrayed him as a racist and anti-Indian, he said.
Transformation of the justice system in KZN is close to Judge Madondo’s heart. He said in his opinion much work needs to be done to ensure that justice is accessible to everyone, including rural people. The small claims court system was one area where restructuring was required to best suit the needs of all people, he said.
Currently these courts were of little benefit to rural communities as the courts were situated in towns and cities and sit after hours, making it impossible for rural people without money and transport to attend. “We must bear in mind that 90% of our population lives in rural areas,” he said.
Judge Madondo is currently also preparing a discussion document concerning the role of traditional courts in the justice system.
Judge Bezuidenhout’s legal career in Pietermaritzburg spans 31 years. He was born in Ermelo, Mpumulanga, and moved to Pietermaritzburg when he was eight years old. He obtained his B.Com LLB from the then University of Natal. Before joining the Pietermaritzburg Bar in 1985, he was a legal adviser for the Department of Justice (Prisons Directorate). He became a senior counsel in 2009. His law practice focused mainly on civil litigation, but also some criminal work. He has been an acting judge on numerous occasions since 2012. He said it was a privilege to be appointed a judge. He aims to treat everyone equally and fairly in terms of the Constitution.
Judge Bezuidenhout is married with three adult children. His hobby is woodwork.
Judge Masipa, a mother of two children — a daughter at university and a five-year-old son — has been a practising attorney in Durban for 14 years, focusing largely on labour law. She has also studied medical law at masters level and shipping law. She said she is looking forward to the new challenges presented by her judicial appointment.