Four recommended for Constitutional Court post

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This was one of the statements made by Judge Boissie Mbha during his interview before the Judicial Service Commission on Tuesday for a seat on the Constitutional Court bench.

While Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng‚ who is chairing the commission‚ did not challenge Mbha’s statement‚ it surfaced later that he did not agree with Mbha’s sentiments.

Mbha‚ a proud church chancellor‚ was one of five candidates who were in the running for the single vacancy. He has not been recommended for the position.

The four candidates who have been recommended to President Jacob Zuma are Judges Malcom Wallis‚ Leona Theron‚ Stevan Majiedt and Jody Kollapen.

All but Kollapen have served in the Constitutional Court as an Acting Judge‚ but Kollapen also has rich experience‚ including heading the SA Human Rights Commission.

As the call for transformation and women empowerment in the judiciary continues‚ Leona Theron is the only female candidate among those considered for the position.

Theron has already made judicial history. At age 33‚ she was the first black female judge to be appointed at the KwaZulu-Natal division of the High Court.

In her current position at the Supreme Court of Appeal‚ Theron has written several judgments that have been upheld by the Constitutional Court.

Majiedt was asked questions about the accountability of judges and why others would hold the perception that not enough was being done as several disciplinary cases are yet to be resolved.

Majiedt said: “It comes from leadership. Leadership needs to confront the issues.”

He himself has had to face the JSC on disciplinary issues in the past‚ having butted heads with Judge President Frans Kgomo‚ whom he accused of discrimination when he overlooked him when he needed an acting replacement for the justice minister position.

Majiedt‚ one of the SCA judges who upgraded Oscar Pistorius’s culpable homicide conviction to murder‚ said he regretted his spat with Kgomo. He later stated that he would never allow himself to be treated unfairly because of the colour of his skin.

Wallis‚ who was the last candidate to be interviewed for the Constitutional Court post‚ was commended for contributing to the country’s judiciary‚ both from the court benches and academia.

Being the only white male candidate from the SCA‚ the pressure lay with him to give a fresh perspective on the allegations that the court had a racially divided and at times sexist environment.

Wallis told the JSC that all judges should contribute towards achieving equality in the SCA.

Wallis has handed down several high-profile judgments‚ including his ruling that the South African government had acted unlawfully after it failed to detain Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited the country two years ago. Al-Bashir was wanted by the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against humanity.

Commenting on the separation of powers‚ Wallis said that when courts were required to intervene in government or legislative matters‚ they should provide clear reasoning for their decisions.

It is now up to Zuma to decide which one of the four candidates to appoint.

The JSC also recommended Judge Frans Legodi for the position of Judge President of the Mpumalanga High Court.

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