Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said they had received a letter from Judge Cecile Williams‚ who had decided to withdraw from the race.
Referring to the letter‚ Mogoeng said “It is rumoured that the JP [Judge President Frans Kgomo] was grooming you for the Judge Presidentship or Deputy President-ship‚” Mogoeng put to the remaining candidate‚ Judge Violet Phatshoane‚ adding that Williams was seemingly displeased about this.
Mogoeng highlighted that Phatshoane was seven years her senior and questioned whether she did not forsee a problem in this.
Not responding to the allegations of her alleged grooming‚ Phatshoane said she did not forsee any problems which may arise‚ adding that if there were any challenges‚ they would need to be “ironed out” accordingly.
Kgomo‚ who is one of the commissioners of the JSC‚ however defended himself‚ saying when the judicial positions were advertised‚ he sent them out to all the judges in the Northern Cape High Court‚ adding that he had wished all of them luck if they intended to apply.
Earlier‚ Commissioner Sfiso Msomi‚ asked Phatshoane whether there were any factions in the Northern Cape High Court division.
“I have not been aware of any factions‚” said Phatshoane‚ adding that she had worked well alongside Williams.
When pressed from 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.
The JSC will make a recommendation to President Jacob Zuma on whether they feel she would be suitable for the post.
Among the major cases that she has presided over was 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 to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) where they claimed that Phatsoane had been influenced by 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 welcomed the JSC’s actions.
– TMG Digital