Picture: Pixabay
Picture: Pixabay

JSC wraps up judicial nominations

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Apr 24, 2021

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The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) concluded marathon interviews to fill vacant positions across the country's judicial bench on Friday.

The commission had sat since April 12. The big highlights for the process have been interviews for vacant positions at the Constitutional Court and at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

This week, the commission nominated candidates for High Court positions in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.

Gauteng

The JSC recommended Judge Roland Sutherland to be appointed as deputy judge president for Gauteng - a division with the most demanding case load.

Sutherland was the only candidate to stand for the role of DJP. He has been a judge since 2012 and has acted in the DJP role since 2019. His most notable case recently was him denying Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku's bid to challenge an SIU PPE probe against him.

The commission also nominated six candidates to fill vacancies at the Gauteng High Court division - one of the busiest divisions in the country.

The JSC chose the following candidates: Judge Nelisa Phiwokazi, who is transferring from Mpumalanga; advocate Petrus Malindi SC; Norman Manoim; Mandla Mbongwe; advocate Portia Phahlane; and magistrate Mashudu Munzhelele.

During the interviews, candidates were questioned on reserved judgments - it's a general rule that judges should do their best to deliver judgments within three months of hearing a court matter. A delayed judgment may be deemed as justice denied.

Mashudu Munzhelele, a regional magistrate in Limpopo, said she took delayed judgments as justice denied.

"I do not have outstanding judgments. My average output is three months. I find that it is not acceptable because people wait for their orders to wait for their fate, justice delayed is justice denied," she explained.

Munzhelele does not have much acting experience in the High Court but insisted she was ready to be appointed a judge.

JSC commissioners took particular interest in Munzhelele because of her outspoken nature in bringing to their attention her difficulty in working as a disabled judicial official.

She said she struggles daily accessing other parts of the court besides her courtroom.

Commissioners were taken aback and advocate Dali Mpofu said he would personally draft a proposal that section 174 (1) of the Constitution should include diversity beyond race and gender.

This section of the Constitution deals with judicial appointments and does not address diversity beyond race and gender when appointments for judicial positions are made.

Mpumalanga

The Mpumalanga High Court division also saw the appointment of its first deputy judge president (DJP).

Judge Segopotje Mphahlele was given the nod despite concerns over her ruling in the 2016 Mpumalanga "coffin case" being amended by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

The DJP role is the first for Mpumalanga - a division that lacks sufficient judicial support, according to the testimonies of candidates.

Mphahlele was interviewed along with Judge Anna Kgoele - a North West appointed judge since 2009.

Mphahlele was first appointed as a judge in 2013 and had previously served in the Gauteng division.

KwaZulu-Natal

On Thursday, magistrate Muzikawukhelwana Ncube, a former court interpreter, was nominated for a position as a judge for KwaZulu-Natal for secondment to the Land Claims Court.

Ncube shared his passion and support for land reform - particularly the rights of labour tenants.

Ncube has been a magistrate for 38 years and has acted as judge at the Land Claims Court since 2006. He holds various degrees in environmental law.

He was questioned on his views on the expropriation of land without compensation. Ncube said he supported the view for the expropriation of land with compensation because he believed the land issue in the country can never be resolved without this matter being dealt with.

The JSC also recommended the following individuals to fill three vacant positions at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court bench: advocate Bruce Stanley Michael Bedderson, Mfuniselwa Elijah Nkosi and advocate Carol Sibiya.

Western Cape

On Friday, the JSC nominated Matthew Francis and advocate Nobahle Mangcu-Lockwood to be appointed as judges of the Western Cape division of the High Court.

The nominations will be confirmed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Political Bureau

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