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A shortlist of candidate judges drawn up by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) did not comply with the Constitution and was “worrisome”, the Black Lawyers' Association (BLA) said on Thursday.
The requirement to reflect the racial and gender composition of South Africa, as required by section 174 (2), when selecting judicial officers was not considered, BLA president Busani Mabunda said.
“The shortlisting relating to the high courts in Pretoria and Johannesburg is worrisome... it does not reflect the demographics of South Africa,” he said.
Last week, the JSC published a shortlist of 21 candidates to be interviewed at its sitting in Cape Town in October.
The candidates for the two high courts are TD Brenner and advocate DS Fourie, SC.
Mabunda said the composition of the list was not in line with the Constitution.
“Someone needs to stand up and say this... The JSC must explain why they think they complied with section 174.”
Section 174(2) reads: “The need for the judiciary to reflect broadly the racial and gender composition of South Africa must be considered when judicial officers are appointed.”
The JSC seemed to be operating under constraint in discharging its constitutional mandate, he said.
“The institution must in no way be caused to succumb to pressure from whatever quarter.”
JSC spokesman advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza said it was “regrettable” that the commission could not shortlist more candidates for the two courts, but that it complied with the requirements of section 174.
He said there were three posts for the two courts, and that Brenner and Fourie qualified as candidates.
“Mabunda is not painting a complete picture. Brenner is a woman and Fourie is a man... They represent our demographics.”
He said the BLA, of which he was a member, did not forward any nominations.
“We tried our best to comply with the Constitution, first in terms of gender, and then race.” - Sapa