We can't play numbers game, says Cachalia

Published Sep 21, 2009


Judge Azhar Cachalia of the Supreme Court of Appeal has told the Judicial Service Commission he was opposed to "the numbers game" in decisions on whether black or white judges should be appointed.

"If I or my family ... appear before a judge, I don't want a judge that looks like me, I want a judge who is fair," he said during his interview for one of four Constitutional Court positions.

He was responding to a question by Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille on whether Indian and coloured people were included in the definition of "blacks".

He said that, although broad-based economic empowerment legislation defined black as black, coloured and Indian, this was something people got "caught up in".

The focus should rather be on appointing a competent non-racist and non-sexist judiciary.

"I feel very strongly we can't play the numbers game."

Judge Cachalia said "it does not work that way" to properly represent every race group.

The thought that he would be appointed by the JSC because he was Indian detracted from the process of finding competent people.

Earlier, he denied that he had considered withdrawing his application, saying he had asked former Constitutional Court judge Justice Johann Kriegler only if he should stay at the SCA longer.

All the candidates had been asked about reports that they had to be convinced not to withdraw their applications.

Judge Cachalia said he was disappointed that fellow SCA member Judge Robert Nugent had withdrawn his application, saying he "felt uncomfortable with the process in the present climate". - Sapa

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