Constitutional Court post to be re-advertised
Despite extending the nomination date by two weeks, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was still unable to find enough short-list candidates for a single vacancy on the Constitutional Court, forcing it to re-advertise the post.
This is not the first time the JSC has had to extend the nomination date, but it is the first time that, in spite of an extension, there was still "an insufficient number of appropriate nominations".
In terms of the constitution, the JSC must give the president a list with three more candidates than the number of posts available. So where there is one vacancy, the JSC would have to give the president a list of four names, from which he would choose one.
It is understood that only four nominations were received by the JSC and that only two of these were likely to make it on to a short list for interviews.
But even if the JSC's sifting committee thought all four were appropriate to short-list, there would still be a chance that, after the interviews, the JSC would not be able to recommend them all to President Jacob Zuma.
Instead, judges who had applied for the Constitutional Court in 2009, Labour Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and North Gauteng High Court Judge Malesela Legodi, have now made themselves available for judge president of SA's busiest courts, the North and South Gauteng high courts.
Also nominated for this post is South Gauteng High Court Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo.
All three are highly respected judges. But Johannesburg lawyers said that the popular Judge Mojapelo should have the edge over the other two; he is more senior than Judge Legodi and has more experience of leading the Gauteng courts than Judge Mlambo.
He also has the support of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Black Lawyers Association.
However, Judge Mlambo is the longest-serving and has a reputation for excellent court administration. He has made significant strides in improving the efficiency of the labour courts. This would strengthen his chances as the administrative burden in Gauteng is sizeable.
In Judge Legodi's favour is that he is already based in Pretoria. With incumbent Judge President Bernard Ngoepe, and his Pretoria deputy, Willem van der Merwe, both on their way out this year, the appointment of Judge Legodi could mean a more seamless transition for the Pretoria court.
But commissioners might question Judge Legodi on whether he would be able to juggle the arms deal inquiry, to which he has been appointed, and his work as judge president should the two overlap.
Only five candidates were short-listed for the North and South Gauteng high courts, despite six vacancies. Recently, the JSC has struggled to fill vacancies in the Gauteng courts. In October a vacancy was left open and in April only four out of six places were filled.
On the list for two spots on the Supreme Court of Appeal were Free State High Court Judge Shamin Ebrahim, Eastern Cape High Court judges Clive Plasket, Xola Petse and Ronnie Pillay and North Gauteng High Court Judge Brian Southwood.
Source: Business Day
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