Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has given controversial retired Judge Zak Yacoob a new role at the Constitutional Court.
There has been no official announcement of the move and Judge Yacoob on Sunday would not comment on the appointment, instead referring queries to the Office of the Chief Justice.
Judge Yacoob told “The Mercury” on Sunday that he had not confirmed his appointment with anyone.
“If I was appointed by the Chief Justice and the Department of Justice to do work, then it is not for me to talk and it is for them to talk about it,” Judge Yacoob said.
He also questioned why the media was interested in such an appointment.
The “Sunday World” reported that it was believed that Judge Yacoob was hired to look at all the appeal cases before the Constitutional Court and that he would have the power to advise the 11 justices of the court on which appeal cases to dismiss and which to entertain.
The paper reported that Judge Yacoob had confirmed his appointment but said he was not obliged to give out further information.
The Department of Justice and the Presidency did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
Alison Tilley of Judges Matter said in the past six months a few academics, and not only judges, had been appointed to the Constitutional Court.
“I cannot say more right now and will wait to confirm exactly what he will be doing.”
Lawson Naidoo of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) said he would not comment as there was not enough detail on the appointment.
“I need to know precisely what role Yacoob will play.”
The Office of the Chief Justice said it was still waiting for an official response from Justice Zondo on the matter.
Judge Yacoob has been dogged by controversial incidents in recent years.
In 2021, he had to apologise to former ANC treasurer-general and lawyer Mathews Phosa after he reportedly insulted the politician.
It was reported that Judge Yacoob contacted Phosa on his phone and questioned his decision to provide legal opinion to the then-suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule on the ANC’s step-aside policy.
The discussion ended on a sour note which prompted Phosa to lodge a criminal complaint of intimidation and crimen injuria against Judge Yacoob.
Phosa wrote to the Judicial Service Commission, which is responsible for the conduct of judges, including the retired Judge Yacoob.
After an intervention by ANC colleagues, Judge Yacoob wrote: “I, Judge Yacoob, apologise unreservedly to Dr Phosa for what I said to him at the end of our conversation. I have high regard for Dr Phosa, both as a comrade who was with me in the struggle for liberation and as a fellow lawyer. I wish to restore our relationship after this unfortunate spat.”
Also in 2021, Judge Yacoob stepped down as interim board chairperson of Cricket South Africa after an alleged heated verbal altercation with a journalist who questioned him about the suspension of the organisation’s then-acting CEO, Kugandrie Govender.
In 2019, Yacoob tendered his resignation as president of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society shortly after he got into a spat with axed society director Shamilla Surjoo. The matter was over a sum of R12 million that was stolen from the organisation’s bank accounts by the society’s former finance officer, Ruvanya Ramiah, over a six-year period.