No suitable candidate to take on Eastern Cape Judge President position‚ says JSC

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The commission announced that it would not be recommending any of the candidates it interviewed for consideration to President Jacob Zuma.

During their interviews‚ held at the offices of the Chief Justices’ offices‚ candidates revealed immense problems within the Eastern Cape courts including a lack of electricity and water‚ stenographers that were not performing‚ prisoners arriving late for court proceedings as well as courts being located far from the rural areas.

High Court Judge Mandela Makaula also revealed a lack of female and black legal representatives and judges in the area‚ stating that the Grahamstown and Mthatha bar had 82 advocates. Only 10 were black and of those‚ only three were women.

He described the Eastern Cape court as a “tricky horse to ride” revealing that things were done differently in that court‚ in comparison to other areas.

“There is an underlying attitude in the bar of Grahamstown‚” Makaula said‚ adding that not all the judges were accommodating of change.

Pressed to share his weaknesses‚ Makaula‚ who had at times taken months to deliver outstanding judgements‚ said he had no weaknesses.

He told the court that the delays in delivering judgments mostly occurred when he was ill‚ battling with what he said was “chronic‚ chronic diabetes”.

He added that another judgment of his was delayed when he was unable to function after his son accidentally drove over his grandson‚ killing him.

“I could not function. I remember my colleagues in February taking over my work. I expected the worst that [my son] may commit suicide. I could not function‚” said Mandela.

Another candidate of interest was the incumbent Deputy Judge President of the division‚ Zamani Nhlangulela.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng failed to find the humour when he light-heartedly brushed off allegations that judges in some courts arrived at work at 11am.

“I don’t have that experience of judges arriving in court at 11‚” Nhlangulela told the JSC.

“I only have two eyes. If only I had 10 eyes‚ I would know so now I am relying on being told‚” said Nhlangulela‚ adding that he hadn’t been informed of such a problem.

Mogoeng replied: “I have a problem in the manner in which you make light of serious things and these are serious things that affect the judiciary… You are there making jokes of things which discredit the judiciary”.

Nhlangulela then toned down his responses and apologised.

Asked to comment on his achievements since taking the position of Deputy Judge President‚ Nhlangulela said he had managed to unite the judges and improve the turnaround time in the delivery of the judgments.

But when prodded to give numbers‚ he did not have the statistics.

Mogoeng was surprised‚ saying he himself was abreast of such issues in the Constitutional Court which he was in charge of it.

“It is my job to know. I live it‚” Mogoeng said.

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