30/10/2012. Judge President Bernard Ngoepe is retires after working for 13 years as the Judge President. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Johannesburg - Retired Gauteng judge president Bernard Ngoepe will chair the Panel of Adjudicators of the Press Council of SA, it announced on Wednesday.

Retired Judge Phillip Levinsohn, from the High Court in Johannesburg, was appointed to chair the Press Council.

“The appointments announced by the panel follow an extensive two years' review of the Press Council, done by the council itself and by the Press Freedom Commission, created by Print Media SA and the SA National Editors Forum,” it said in a statement.

“The review led to a revamped council with a new constitution, complaints procedures and press code.”

Retired Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro, chairwoman of the Appointments Panel of the council, made the appointments, which take effect from February 1.

In January 2012, Ngoepe was vocal in opposing the draft regulations to force judges to declare their financial interests.

In 2009, Ngoepe was part of the subcommittee appointed to decide whether the Judicial Service Commission would relaunch a formal misconduct inquiry against Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, for allegedly making an inappropriate approach regarding a judgment on President Jacob Zuma, before he became the president.

Axed National Prosecuting Authority boss Vusi Pikoli filed court papers to prevent the appointment of a permanent successor in the High Court in Johannesburg before Ngoepe, in 2009.

He also formed part of the three judges who decided on the African National Congress' application for leave to appeal a court ruling that Cope could use the name Congress of the People in 2008.

In 2008, Ngoepe decided that Clive Derby-Lewis, the murderer of Chris Hani, would have his parole hearing before a full bench of high court judges because of legislative changes and public interest in the case.

In addition to Ngoepe's appointment to the Panel of Adjudicators, the public representatives include Lindsay Clowes, Simphiwe Sesanti, Neville Woudberg, Phillip van der Merwe, Peter Mann, Brian Gibson, Carol Mohlala, and Ntsikelelo Sandi.

Susan Smuts, Henry Jeffries, Sanglay Mahmood, Fanie Groenewald, Franz Kruger and Nic Dawes would join as press representatives.

Members of the new council in addition to Levinsohn are Dr Pieter Coetzee, Mike Lenaghan, Judge Ralph Zulman, formerly of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Prince Mkhonza, Joe Seremane and Huida Shenker as public representatives.

Media representatives are Raymond Louw, Amina Frense, Louise Vale, Graeme Campbell, Mondli Makhanya and Zelda Jongbloed.

Deputy Press Ombudsman Johan Retief takes over as Obmudsman after outgoing ombudsman Joe Thloloe was appointed as Director in the Press Council.

The council also created the Public Advocate position and appointed Lateefa Mobara, to receive all complaints and to “champion the cause of complaints throughout the adjudication process”.

The appointment of the judges were made after consultations with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, the council said.

“All the 1/8other 3/8 positions for public representatives were widely advertised and the applicants who were shortlisted were interviewed by the panel,” it said.

Members of the panel included Raymond Louw and Mahmood Sanglay as press representatives and Clyde Broster and Ina du Bruyn as public representatives. - Sapa