Johannesburg - Limpopo Legal Solutions (LLS), a non-profit organisation, has called for the appointment of Tsonga origin acting judges in the Limpopo Division of the high court.
In a letter that was sent to Limpopo Judge President Ephraim Makgoba on May 28, the organisation alleged that there was a drought in the appointment of acting judges of Tsonga origin at the Limpopo High Court in Polokwane and Thohoyandou.
“The suffusion in the hearts of members of the public, and more particularly members of the legal profession, regarding the drought in the appointments of Tsonga-Shangaan acting judges in the Limpopo division of the high court, Polokwane and Thohoyandou, is a serious and/or grave concern,” LLS wrote in the letter.
LLS legal adviser Kevin Maluleke said the composition of the Limpopo division of the high court did not represent the demographics of the province.
“Limpopo province is unique because predominantly we have Sepedi, Venda and Tsonga or Shangaan speaking people, and one would have expected that given the unique nature of our province the Limpopo division, which is new, should represent such demographics,” he said.
Maluleke alleged that Makgoba had never invited Tsonga candidates to be considered for acting judge positions.
“This is important because whenever positions are advertised by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), part of the criteria and during interviews they will ask if you were ever given an opportunity or an acting stint at a particular division, and then you must boost your experience.
"If someone aspires to be a judge and they have not been given an opportunity for a stint as an acting judge, this means they will never see themselves appointed as judges on a permanent basis,” he said.
Permanent judges are appointed by the JSC, however judge presidents are responsible for overseeing the acting judge process where people could be recommended, or the judge president could invite a candidate based on their performance.
Maluleke said the organisation felt that the transparency of the process needed to be re-examined.
“How do we know whether a selected candidate for acting appointments is in fact a fit and proper person, and thus we advocate the need for a transparent process,” the organisation said.
The Star sent a media inquiry to the judiciary on Sunday, however spokesperson Nathi Mncube was not able to provide a response before publication.
LLS claimed that there was a lack of transformation in the division.
“Let all these three ethnic groups which represent the demographics of Limpopo be given an opportunity to shine and act so that each ethnic group is proud of their own,” he said.