Professor Sunette Lötter has an LLB from the University of Johannesburg, and an LLM and LLD from the University of Pretoria.
She is currently Deputy Chairperson of the South African Broadcasting Complaints Commission, a position she previously held from 2008-210. She was a regular commissioner there from 2000-2008.
A professor of criminal law at the University of South Africa, Lötter has worked there since 1992. Prior to this she worked as a legal advisor for the South African Police (1987-1991) and as legal advisor to the South African Railway Police (1986-1987). She worked as a public prosecutor for three years in the early from 1983-1986.
October 2017 Interview:
October 2017 – Interview synopsis
Regular Judicial Service Commission-watchers may sometimes be forgiven for thinking that the commission’s short-listing process is occasionally driven by laughing gas.
Sometimes candidates are so obviously under-qualified to be interviewed, that there appears no rational explanation for their presence on the short-list.
The unfortunate Professor Sunette Lötter, through no fault of her own, being a case in point. Lötter had never acted in the high court and aside from working as a public prosecutor between 1983-1986, has no other courtroom experience.
It emerged during her interview that Lötter was unfamiliar with the rules and procedures of court. A professor of criminal law, she has written interesting papers about criminal law and how it is used to “address social problems” rather than to protect property and people, but her experience in the frontline of the criminal justice system was non-existent.
Why she was there is anyone’s guess.
Lötter’s presence did, however, raise an interesting question for the JSC, which has struggled to broaden its pool of potential judges: what can be done to bridge the experience gap for legal academics so as to make them competent candidates for judicial appointment?
Lötter admitted during her interview that she had spoken to Gauteng High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo about a potential acting stint, “but he doesn’t really know me” she said.
Democratic Alliance member of parliament Hendrik Schmidt asked Lötter whether, if she was allowed to sit as an assessor in court cases and wrote a mock Bar exam to understand the rules of the court, this may ready her for an acting stint? Lötter agreed.
Free State Judge President Mahube Molemela asked Lötter: “Would you be willing to set aside some time to attend an aspirant judges course?”
“Yes, I would love to do that,” responded Lötter.
There is certainly untapped enthusiasm within the academy for judicial appointment. How the JSC and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng seek to harness this, if at all — especially in light of the awful candidates emerging from the magistracy — will indicate how inclusive their vision for the judiciary really is.