A single Supreme Court of Appeal judge and two Bloemfontein residents were the only people at a public hearing on judicial conduct and judges' disclosure of interests, held in the city on Wednesday.
They were joined by two members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) ad hoc committee on the matter in the hearing at the Fourth Raadzaal.
Appeal Judge Robert Nugent asked committee chairman Toenka Matila whether anybody had been informed about the sitting, as he had been told about it late on Monday.
He expressed disquiet about the situation and wondered whether the public had known of the event.
“What notice was given?” he asked.
Matila said as far as he was aware the Supreme Court of Appeal was notified about the committee's meeting.
Nugent said the short notice resulted in many judges not being able to attend.
“Many wanted to be here,” Nugent told Matila and committee member Denis Joseph. He said judges were not against any disclosure of their interests.
“We accept, with some reluctance, some disclosures,” he said.
Nugent submitted a document on the matter, compiled by judges, and indicated the judiciary had not just complained, but made proposals to remove defects in the draft regulations.
The judge said since the document was handed to the state no one had made efforts to discuss it with the judiciary.
The two members of the public that arrived were representatives of the Botshabelo Socio-economic Forum. Spokesman Seotlolla Dikgang made a one sentence statement that they were in favour of judges declaring their interests.
Asked whether there was anything more he wanted to add, Dikgang told the committee they only heard about the sitting the day before and had not had time to prepare properly.
Matila adjourned the sitting and expressed the hope that at the next event, in Joburg on Thursday, attendance would be better.
Matila said further submissions from the Free State should be made in writing. He reiterated he was briefed on Tuesday that all was in place for the Bloemfontein meeting. – Sapa
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