Home South African Newly appointed Chief Justice Zondo pushes for decorum during JSC interviews

Newly appointed Chief Justice Zondo pushes for decorum during JSC interviews

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Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said that although robust questioning of candidates was expected, they would be treated with respect and dignity.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. File picture

THE NEWLY revamped Judicial Service Commission (JSC), under the leadership of newly appointed Chief Justice (CJ) Raymond Zondo, is set to interview candidates nominated for positions in various courts this week.

Currently, the JSC is interviewing five candidates for two positions on the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

Attempting to run an interview session with decorum, CJ Zondo used his opening remarks, “for the benefit of the public”, to emphasise that all candidates should be treated with respect, courtesy, and human dignity.

The JSC had tasked the Rules Committee to review the criteria to recommend to the JSC any amendments to expand and or supplement the criteria.

Zondo said the JSC considered its guidelines on the criteria used when considering candidates for judicial appointments, adopted in 1998 and updated in 2010. He said that during a meeting on Monday, the JSC reaffirmed its commitment to the criteria as updated and would continue to apply it in the interviews scheduled from April 5 to 8, 2022.

“The JSC had a very full and constructive discussion about its mandate yesterday. There was complete acceptance by everyone in the JSC, that at all times we intend treating all candidates with respect and courtesy, and with due regard for their human dignity,” he said.

Zondo added that although robust questioning of candidates was expected, they would be treated with respect and dignity.

First in the hot seat was advocate Alan Dodson SC, who has previously done some work for the State Capture Inquiry as an advocate.

Dodson has served as a judge at the Land Claims Court from 1995 to 2000, and also served as an acting judge in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, and the Labour Court.

Similar to his previous interview, Dodson told the JSC that he has spent most of his career focused on ensuring the law was a tool to assist disadvantaged communities, and particularly rural communities. He mentioned that, during apartheid, he sought to help people who were being subjected to forced removals and represented the victims of police brutality.

Dodson further told the JSC that he did not believe that his appointment should be seen negatively, as the ConCourt currently did not have a permanent white justice.

Advocate Kameshni Pillay SC, who replaced advocate Dali Mpofu SC as the representative of Advocates for Transformation at the JSC, asked Dodson about his lack of commercial work – and how it may impact his suitability as a ConCourt justice.

Dodson said that he dealt extensively with commercial work as an acting judge and also served on the disciplinary committee for auditors, where he dealt with a number of complex auditing cases.

Commissioner Julius Malema, attending the JSC sitting virtually, asked Dodson if his appointment to the ConCourt “will advance any transformation agenda”. Dodson said yes, it would, because he adopted the transformative imperative of the Constitution in his work and has used his work as an advocate to address racial and gender transformation.

“I am an African,” Dodson said.

In answering a question from Commissioner Glynnis Breytenbach, Dodson said that a judge should recuse himself or herself if they had a personal interest in a matter or had expressed a view on an issue in the case.

The interviews are continuing.

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