Currently a consultant at an attorneys firm, Sungaree Pather has been a member of the Electoral Court since 2013. She has acted for one term in 2002 in the Eastern Cape High Court and has had spells in the Land Claims Court, the Labour Court and the High Court in Gauteng.
From 2011-2016 Pather was chairperson of the Special Pensions Appeal Board at national treasury and also spent ten years, from 1996 to 2006, working at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
While at the Electoral Court in 2015, Pather was asked to decide on an application brought by the African National Congress to set aside the Electoral Commission’s refusal to register a candidate for a by-election.
The commission’s refusal as based on the fact that the cheque for the deposit to register the candidate did not accompany the nomination form. The candidate had pushed the cheque under the door of the commission’s office five minutes after the deadline.
She found that this demonstrated “substantial compliance” and that “the ANC’s intention to participate in the by-election was not frivolous”. Pather, with her two colleagues agreeing, ruled that “flexibility in the application of the requirements” was favourable when political parties appeared serious in wanting to contest elections.
The application was granted and the commission was ordered to include the candidate on the list of candidates contesting the by-election. The Democratic Alliance unsuccessfully sought to have the judgment rescinded.
Pather holds a BA from the former University of Durban-Westville and a B.Proc from the University of South Africa.
April 2018 Interview Synopsis:
Pather had the edge on Lawrence during these interviews since she had previously worked as a member of the Electoral Court.
She told the Judicial Service Commission that her time there had been a “learning process” and being given the opportunity to write judgments had sped up her development and her ability to work with legislation and the values of the Constitution had improved her.
“I am up to the challenge,” Pather said, adding that she was “committed to the idea of substantively free and fair elections. She was appointed as a member of the Electoral Court — her approximately 13 minute interview proving lucky.