Cape Town - The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will interview eight candidates for the Western Cape bench this week, an official said on Tuesday.
Spokesman Dumisa Ntsebeza said the candidates would be quizzed in Cape Town on Wednesday, with only four spots open in the Western Cape High Court.
The candidates are Judith Cloete, Jeremy Gauntlett, Ashton Schippers, Pearl Mantame, Stephen Koen, Naoe Dolamo, Nonkosi Saba, and Owen Rogers.
The interviews come after the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the JSC against a judgment of the Western Cape High Court, in favour of the Cape Bar Council.
The court upheld an application by the council resulting from a judicial appointment recommendation made by the JSC in April 2011.
The JSC decided not to recommend candidates for posts on the high court's bench and filled only one of three positions, after interviews with seven short-listed candidates.
The appeal court upheld the lower court's finding that the decision was irrational and that the reasons provided were wholly inadequate in the circumstances.
Gauntlett, considered by many one of the country's finest lawyers, had previously been passed over by the JSC.
In a scathing letter on Monday, former defence advisor Paul Ngobeni asked the JSC not to appoint Gauntlett to the bench.
“The most important attributes of leadership in the judiciary are restraint, modesty and tenacity, and Gauntlett has none of these attributes,” he said.
“Gauntlett’s political entanglements and unprincipled attacks on certain black judges, including the Judge President of the Cape of Good Hope where he seeks appointment, render him uniquely unfit for appointment at this stage.”
Ngobeni said the JSC had a duty to appoint more black candidates to the bench as they were under-represented.
Gauntlett told the Cape Times on Tuesday it was “unfortunate” Ngobeni had held back until now. He said Ngobeni was resurrecting and misreading statements he made in 2005 about transformation, access to justice, and how some acting judges were not fit for their positions.
“The concern I expressed was that insufficiently experienced colleagues, of all races and both sexes, were taking up acting appointments,” he told the newspaper. - Sapa