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ConCourt nominations dismay legal eagles

Parts of the legal fraternity are displeased that the five shortlisted candidates for the latest vacancy on the Constitutional Court bench are all men.
At present, only two of the 11 Constitutional Court judges are women.

Yesterday (16 January), the Judicial Service Commission announced the five candidates vying for a place on the bench. The successful candidate will replace Justice Zak Yacoob, who retires at the end of the month.

Some people in the legal fraternity suggest that no women were nominated because there were problems with the way the commission handled its interviews.

The shortlisted candidates include advocate Jeremy Gauntlett SC, who has been passed over twice by the commission for a position as a Cape Town High Court judge.

When asked about the commission's previous refusals to promote Gauntlett, spokesman Dumisa Ntsebeza said it would approach all candidates for the position with an "open mind."

He said all the nominated candidates had been shortlisted.

The other candidates are judges Selby Baqwa, Lebotsang Bosielo and Brian Spilg and advocate Mbuyiseli Madlanga, SC.

"There was no reason not to shortlist them. Three of them are judges, which makes them fit and competent and two are senior advocates with extensive experience."

Wits Law professor Morné Olivier said it was "unfortunate that not a single woman was nominated, considering there were many worthy candidates within the judiciary, academia and legal practice".

Olivier said: "One would perhaps have expected the JSC to extend the time period for nominations to allow for women to be nominated."

Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary for the Council for the Advancement of the Constitution, said the lack of women nominees revealed deeper problems within the commission.

"The issue is broader than just women. Part of the explanation is the manner that the JSC has been conducting itself," Naidoo said.

he said many worthwhile candidates did not want to be nominated only to be grilled in a very public setting when they believed the commission had already made up its mind.

"People feel they are not getting a fair hearing and that the JSC is politically partisan. There is a broader distrust of the JSC," Naidoo added.

Source: The Times via I-Net Bridge


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