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Advocate Francois Johannes Van der Merwe

Capacity: Advocate
First admitted as advocate: 2013
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: White
Date of Birth: 21 May 1961

Key judgments:

  • Famous Brands Management Co. (Pty) Ltd v CCMA and Others (2016) 37 ILJ 2857 (LC)
  • Ramsammy v General Public Service Sectoral Bargaining Council (Case No: JR3216/11) ZALCJHB 2016
  • Oliver v CCMA (JR1578/15)[2016] ZALCJHB 565 (12 August 2016)
  • SA Municipal Workers Union v City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality (JS987/15)[2016] ZALCJHB 568 (26 October 2016)

Candidate Bio:

Southern Cape Advocate Francois van der Merwe has broad experience in the labour relations field. He started his legal career as a legal officer at parastatal company SA Transport Services. He later joined the Sandton Municipality as an industrial relations officer in 1987 and worked in the same role as the Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company. He has also spent time as a lecturer at Technikon SA and at his alma mater, the then Rand Afrikaanse Universiteit in Johannesburg. The bulk of experience of van der Merwe’s experience has been as an independent labour consultant, a part-commissioner at the CCMA and as an advocate in private practice.

April 2021 Interview:

April 2021 Interview Synopsis:

For an interview that came at the tail-end of a marathon 2-week interview session, Advocate Francois van der Merwe’s interview started off on an up-beat tone. Chief Justice Mogoeng started by taking van der Merwe through his extensive experience as in-house counsel at a mining company, a labour consultant, and an arbitrator at the CCMA.

This upbeat tone was spoiled by Labour Court Judge President Basheer Waglay, who quickly pointed out that van der Merwe had limited judicial experience in the Labour Court, and that the bulk of his adjudicatory work was as an arbitrator at the CCMA which, Waglay described as “nothing” compared to the work of the Labour Court. Waglay also noted that van der Merwe holds the distinction of being the only candidate not recommended by a practising lawyer but by a fellow commissioner on the CCMA. Mr Sifiso Lukhele, the NEDLAC representative on the JSC, also seemed unconvinced by van der Merwe’s understanding of the role of the Concourt’s jurisprudence in labour relations and the labour market.

The most controversial part of the interview came when van der Merwe had to explain his involvement in right-wing pro-apartheid secret organisation Die Ruiterwag as a young university student at the then Rand Afrikaanse Universiteit. He explained it as the folly of youth, that he grew up in a sheltered environment, and that many in his community at the time saw it as nothing wrong. None of these explanations seemed to convince the JSC however, and he was not recommended for appointment.