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Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng wrote to retired judges a few months ago, seeking their expertise and help in mentoring and settling their successors, the new occupants on the Bench in the high and low courts.
It was an astute move, tapping into a rich seam of knowledge. This newspaper applauded him for it.
Some judges turned him down, but 17 agreed; according to Mogoeng: “They were so excited that they were afforded the opportunity to make a difference and address a crying need in our nation.”
Need it is. If one accepts that the courts are there for the peace and stability of a nation, it is in the country’s interest to see that they function efficiently. The rate and quality of their output is critical to that success.
Since Mogoeng’s initiative, others have been reported: Gift of the Givers appealing to retired doctors and nurses to lend a hand in the rescue of Addington Hospital; and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife CEO Bandile Mkhize unlocking a trove of skill in recalling retired conservation experts as consultants.
There is a lot of know-how among South African pensioners, some of whom merely reached the age, others who were pushed out in a careless rush for transformation.
They are showing patriotism and public spirit in returning to help fix weaknesses that have become apparent since the changeovers. But there are rewards for them: they have a vested interest, the whole country does, in ensuring that the gaps they left are properly filled. The quality of our future depends on all organisations, departments and agencies running well.
And for the elders there is plain recognition of their earlier contributions, and the engagement, stimulation and challenge of being brought back.
We tip our hats, then, to both those asking for help and those responding positively. In a skills crisis, dumping any skill seems foolish.