Picture:Dumisani Dube/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture:Dumisani Dube/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

ConCourt candidates face tough questions as JSC aims to fill vacant posts

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Apr 13, 2021

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Johannesburg - The contentious topic of land claims in South Africa came under the spotlight day as the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) kicked off its bid to fill two vacant posts at the Constitutional Court – with candidates quizzed on legal issues critical to the work of the apex court.

The first candidate to take the stand was advocate Alan Dodson SC.

Dodson, who served as land claims judge between 1995 and 2000 faced numerous questions regarding his work in representing land claimants.

EFF leader Julius Malema questioned him on whether his appointment to the apex would advance transformation.

Malema further probed Dodson on why he, as a white male, should be chosen above other candidates who were black women?

Dodson said he was of the view that his appointment to the court would advance transformation because the need for change was not only about pigmentation.

He further explained that the framers of the Constitution wanted a wide range of perspectives and that is why the court required only four appointees to have been judges.

“This is part of the transformation,” Dodson told the JSC.

Dodson said he would be able to serve on widening the court’s jurisdiction and reach because of his wide background.

Malema also asked Dodson whether he believed section 25 of the Constitution allowed for land expropriation without compensation.

Dodson said he believed the section did, but this would depend on interpretation.

The advocate was also asked whether any judgments had hampered the advancement of land restitution.

He said he believed there had been judgments that had created “hoops” for communities to prove their land claim.

Dodson said one of the core stumbling blocks to land redistribution was access to legal services that many communities could not afford.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo quizzed Dodson on “what was persuasive in your candidacy?” to which he replied that he had a wide range of experience in the land claims court and also in private practice with a commercial background.

Dodson had faced charges while serving in the army for his refusal to take part in army patrols in townships during apartheid.

The second candidate on the seat was sitting High Court judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane.

She was a researcher at the apex court’s founding in 1995 ad was appointed to the Gauteng Bench in 2010.

Kathree-Setiloane said her appointment to the apex court would represent transformation and represent hope for young women who hoped to join the lag field.

“I am a woman, I believe I can make a contribution to the court as a woman judge. They (women) bring the law closer to the young lawyer who does not believe she or he could become a lawyer. It makes it possible for a young woman to believe that they have a role to play and can climb the ladder in the legal field,” Kathree-Setiloane.

The judge also spoke to her wide experience in commercial and public law matters.

“I think I am committed to the transformation project of our Constitution. I can make a contribution to transforming society and I am committed to social justice which is an important aspect,” she said.

She believes judges should speak through their judgments to avoid setting themselves up for trouble and public criticism.

The interviews resume today.

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Political Bureau

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