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Johannesburg - Two of the country’s top judges are retiring later this year after over a decade on the bench.
Arms deal commission member and Free State Judge President Thekiso Musi and Head of the Electoral Court Judge Kenneth Mthiyane are stepping down after serving 15 and 12 years respectively.
Both are retiring on April 30.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s spokeswoman Lulama Luti confirmed their retirement.
According to Luti, Justice Musi, who turns 72 in June, will continue serving on the arms deal commission until its work is concluded while Judge Mthiyane will remain deputy president of the Supreme Court of Appeal.Justice
Musi, a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee, is a former vice-president and acting president of the Black Lawyers Association and a prosecutor.
Judge Mthiyane, appointed to the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2001, has been the court’s deputy president since 2012. He previously served at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court and acted as a Constitutional Court justice in 2011.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which Justice Mogoeng chairs, advertised 21 vacancies last month across the country including Musi and Mthiyane’s positions.
The JSC is facing a challenge from the Helen Suzman Foundation, which claims its failure to recommend the appointment of Khayelitsha magistrate Nonkosi Saba, advocates Jeremy Gauntlett and Stephen Koen to the Western Cape bench was unlawful, irrational and invalid.
President Jacob Zuma appointed Judith Cloete, Mokgoatji Dolamo, Babalwa Mantame, Owen Rogers and Ashton Schippers as Western Cape High Court judges a year ago.
“Ensuring that the correct process is followed is critical to the development of the judiciary…,” the foundation’s director Francis Antonie says in court papers filed at the Western Cape High Court.
The foundation wants a proper interpretation of section 174 of the constitution, which deals with the appointment of judges.
In terms of the constitution, the JSC must recommend for appointment fit and proper people and consider the need to reflect the racial and gender composition of the country.
The foundation claims the JSC’s basis for suggesting that the appointment of two white men (Gauntlett and Koen) would violate the constitution was unclear.
Meanwhile, the Law Society of SA is demanding that Justice Minister Jeff Radebe take decisions as outlined in the Legal Practice Bill in consultation with the legal practice council and not after consultation with the council.