The JSC kicked off interviews to fill two vacancies at the Constitutional Court on Monday.
The JSC kicked off interviews to fill two vacancies at the Constitutional Court on Monday.

Land question dominates JSC interviews

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Apr 14, 2021

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THE Judicial Service Commission's (JSC) interviews to fill vacant posts at the country's top courts have seen some candidates asked about whether the Constitution allowed for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The JSC kicked off interviews to fill two vacancies at the Constitutional Court on Monday.

By Wednesday it had began conducting the interviews for five vacancies at the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Judge Zeenat Carelse, who was appointed to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg Court in 2009, faced questions from commissioners about the land issue boggling the country. She currently serves as an acting judge at the SCA until May.

She has acted as a judge at the Land Claims Court since 2009.

Carelse said she believed the Constitution currently allows for land to be expropriated without compensation.

EFF MP Julius Malema asked Carelse whether there would be an issue if the Constitution was amended to clarify the expropriation issue.

"I do not think it will cause any harm. This matter has never been brought before the court. The land claims court is underfunded and undervalued. If that ( amending the law) is what is required to write the wrongs of the past then I see no issue," she responded.

The land expropriation issue was also brought up during interviews earlier in the week when Advocate Alan Dodson was asked whether the Constitution supported expropriation without compensation.

The JSC again dealt with the allegations of a "top-six" faction at the SCA. It had been alleged that a group of judges at the court have been bullying junior judges.

Carelse said she has had one experience with a senior judge at the SCA, regarding a judgment she wrote. She, however, insisted that the culture at the SCA had changed over the last few years, under SCA president Mandisa Maya.

"It is very different now. Everyone writes. The dynamics and the changes that the court has been built up. Judge Maya takes the bull by the horn," Carelse said.

Eastern Cape Judge Johannes Willem Eksteen, who also served as an acting judge at the SCA, said he was surprised by the allegations about junior judges being bullied.

He insisted that had never experienced any unusual culture at the SCA, but he added that over the last 18 months since Maya had come in charge, it has become less tense at the appeals court.

KwaZulu-Natal High Court Judge Trevor Govern, who has served as Judge since 2008, was questioned on why he should be picked for a nomination at the SCA, as a white male who seemed similar to a fellow candidate.

Advocate Thandazani Madonsela, a JSC commissioner, said Judge Pete Koen seemed similar to him as a fellow KZN-based judge.

Govern him and Koen were different and he believed they could both different qualities to the appeals court.


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