Are there factions in the Northern Cape judiciary?


Are there factions in the Northern Cape judiciary?

Naledi Shange | 2017-04-05 14:04:27.0

Judge Violet Phatshoane revealed that there had been issues in the past. File photo.

Image by: Thinkstock Images.

While it was unclear what reasons Judge Cecile Williams had for backing down from being interviewed for the Northern Cape Judge President and Deputy Judge President role on Wednesday‚ her name featured in the interview of Judge Violet Phatshoane who was vying for the Deputy Judge position.

The interviews were being held by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) at the offices of the Chief Justice.

Commissioner Sfiso Msomi‚ who was posing questions to Phatshoane‚ said Williams had also been nominated for the post but chose to withdraw from the interview process.

“Would it be fair to say that your division is factionalised?” Msomi asked Phatsoane.

“I have not been aware of any factions‚” said Phatshoane‚ adding that she had worked well alongside Williams‚ who is currently serving as High Court judge.

When pressed by another commissioner‚ though‚ on whether any other judges had had issues with Williams‚ Phatshoane revealed that there had been issues in the past.

“It was about a judgment she had written in Afrikaans and the other colleague was not conversant with Afrikaans‚” said Phatshoane.

The judge who is not fluent in Afrikaans approached Williams about issues of having difficulties in reading the judgment.

Williams was reported to have responded by telling the said judge to “consult the dictionary”.

With Williams withdrawing from the interviews‚ Phatshoane became the only candidate to be interviewed for the Northern Cape Deputy Judge President position.

One of major cases that she has dealt with include the matter involving former Northern Cape ANC provincial chairperson John Block. She sentenced him to an effective 15 years’ imprisonment after finding him guilty of corruption and money-laundering following an arduous four-year trial.

Following the conviction‚ Block’s lawyers approached the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) where they claimed that Phatsoane had been influenced by Judge President Frans Kgomo.

They alleged that a judge known to them had overheard a telephonic conversation between Phatsoane and Kgomo during which the latter had urged her to “convict the bastards”.

The JSC dismissed the allegations.

Phatshoane claimed to have not been given reasons for this by the JSC.

Public Service and Administration Minister‚ Faith Muthambi‚ who is one of the commissioners‚ questioned Phatsoane whether she was not concerned about how the JSC reached that decision.

“No… My name was being vilified‚” Phatshoane replied.

– TMG Digital

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