Sharon Marks is an institution of sorts in the KwaZulu-Natal magistracy, having worked there since 1986. In 1992 she was appointed regional magistrate and has spent several stints as the Regional Court President. Prior to her moving to the magistracy she spent three years working as a state prosecutor. She told the commission that she had become a prosecutor because she didn’t have any “connections” to get into a law firm and had to pay off her student loans.
In 2005-2006 she was an assessor in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court. She has acted in the KwaZulu-Natal division in 2012 and from 2014-2017.
October 2017 Interview:
October 2017 – Interview synopsis
Magistrate Sharon Marks said that after her acting stints in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, she was aware of the “different practise directives” when compared to the magistracy.
“I love it at high court level,” Marks added, before promising, “I am a quick learner… I guarantee that I have a very, very strong work ethic.”
However, Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe quizzed Marks — as he did all candidates who had not acted in his division — bluntly about her not knowing his court.
“If you are so good, surely your Judge President [in KZN] would have wanted to retain you, allow you to act longer and then create a position for you?” Hlophe asked Marks, wondering aloud why she was applying for the a position in Cape Town.
Marks pointed out to Hlophe that there were a “number of judges in KZN who had not acted in KZN” prior to their appointment and she didn’t believe her not having acted in the Western Cape constituted a problem. She said her impression was that while KZN Judge President Achmat Jappie “supported” her application for a Western Cape position, it was not because he was eager to see the back of her.
Her inability to speak Zulu, and a perceived disinclination to learn — despite working in a province and a court where Zulu was the first language of most people — appeared to be marked against Marks, who has appeared before the Judicial Service Commission once previously.
She said she was “trying very hard to learn” Zulu without providing any evidence that she was. Marks said she hadn’t encountered any racism on the KZN Bench but in the “legal fraternity there is racism”.