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JSC selects two magistrates for Western Cape High Court Bench

Daniel Thulare. Picture: Supplied

Daniel Thulare. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 11, 2021


Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court is set to have two new judges to add to its current complement of 33.

Following deliberations after interviewing five candidates for the post, the JSC has recommended Cape Town Chief Magistrate Daniel Thulare and magistrate James Lekhuleni for the Bench. Both have served as acting judges in the high court.

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For Thulare it proved to be third time lucky after two previous interviews for the post of judge proved unsuccessful.

JSC commissioner Jomo Nyambi (ANC) asked Thulare what had changed to bring him to the interview panel for a third try while acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked him to use the transcript from his second interview in April to point out where he thought he had made mistakes.

Thulare said: “I am a person who learns from his mistakes and I’ve learnt from some JSC interview questions that came up in previous interviews.

“Questions on late judgments got to me but I have since gotten the message loud and clear and now understand the need for urgency," said Thulare.

James Lekhuleni
Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe said the two problems affecting judicial officers in the Western Cape were racism and forum shopping. Picture: Adrian de Kock

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe said the two problems affecting judicial officers in the Western Cape were racism and forum shopping, which was defined as white male advocates removing cases before black judges.

He asked Thulare how he would handle such a problem.

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Thulare said one way to deal with the problem would be a system of case management, where one judge stayed with a matter until completion.

On the issue of differences of opinion between judges, raised by commissioner Dali Mpofu, Thulare said such differences were healthy as they were good for jurisprudence.

Magistrate James Lekhuleni’s answer to Judge President Hlophe’s question on the issue of forum shopping was that parties must not be told the identity of the judge before the hearing.

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JSC commissioner Dali Mpofu. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Asked by Mpofu why he applied to the Western Cape and whether he was aware of the transformation challenges on the bench there? Lekhuleni said that his family had settled in the province and that transformation challenges needed to be dealt with head-on.

Also in the running for the two posts were Durban Regional Court Magistrate Pearl Andrews, Cape Town magistrate Noluthando Nziweni and senior advocate Mohamed Salie SC.

Andrews ran into trouble during her interview when Judge Hlophe chose to revisit the controversial issue of her sitting on a DA v ANC case despite being related to a then rising star of the DA, Daylin Mitchell (now Transport MEC) and ruling in favour of the DA in that matter.

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Andrews said she was estranged from her cousin and also wasn't aware that the case involved the DA as the parties were cited in their personal capacities. She said had she known her relative was involved, she would have recused herself from the case.

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Cape Argus