File picture: Andrew Kelly/Illustration/Reuters
File picture: Andrew Kelly/Illustration/Reuters

Six candidates nominated for Gauteng High Court division – JSC interviews

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Apr 21, 2021

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Johannesburg - The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has nominated six candidates to fill vacancies at the Gauteng High Court division – one of the busiest divisions in the country.

The JSC has for the past week interviewed candidates to fill crucial judicial vacancies in the country’s courts. On Tuesday it concluded interviews with eight candidates for Gauteng.

The commission has chosen 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 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 said.

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

The 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 with advocate Dali Mpofu saying 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. Munzhelele said she would support such an amendment.

Advocate Portia Dipuo Phahlane, who has acted for 76 weeks at the High Court, mostly focused on criminal trials, was also quizzed about reserved judgments.

"If you have a responsibility of delivering judgments in a period of three months, do it. You must create a balance to deliver judgments on time, Phahlane said.

Malindi's interview also drew interest from commissioners, because of a previous application to be appointed as a judge. He had faced tough questions regarding his membership in the ANC. He said that he has not renewed his membership and that he has grown over the years.

"To those to whom it mattered that I applied a year after not renewing my membership to the ANC, they have had four years to consider and observe me, and I believe that period is more than long enough to allay any fears that I come here as being supplanted from Luthuli House,” Malindi said on Monday.

The candidates will now be confirmed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The JSC interviews continue on Wednesday.

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