Our most read articles of 2021
Throughout the year we write articles to share information about the JSC, the judges’ interview process, and the South African judicial system as a whole. This year, much of the focus has been on the JSC interviews and of course, the position of the Chief Justice.
In our previous installment, we pointed out that the magistracy is an important arm of the judiciary, yet they remain understudied and there is very little public discourse on them. In this installment, we seek to explain how magistrates are selected and appointed in South Africa.
What role can judges play in preventing the Stalingrad legal strategy of criminals bent on manipulating the system?
Over the past few months, we published a series of articles about the position of Chief Justice, including articles discussing the importance of the role of the Chief Justice, the criteria we think a Chief Justice should possess, and the process by which the Chief Justice is appointed. These articles were prompted by the fact that the tenure of Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, was coming to an end in October 2021. It was therefore timely to begin thinking about who should be chosen as the next Chief Justice, and on what basis that decision should be made.
In March 2017 President Zuma appointed three new members of the JSC (Judicial Service Commission). These members replaced the previous members namely, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, Advocate Ismael Semenya SC, and Ms Andiswa Ndoni. The new members are Advocate Thandi Norman SC, Advocate Thabani Masuku SC, and Mr Sifiso Msomi. There are four members of the Judicial Service Commission who are known by the nickname ‘The President’s Men’ as they are appointed to the Commission by the President. This is a brief introduction to these new JSC members.
Of the five Chief Justices in post-apartheid South Africa, it is only Chief Justice Mogoeng who has ever been the subject of a complaint before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). There are currently two complaints against Chief Justice Mogoeng, before the JSC. The first complaint is in relation to comments he made during a webinar in June 2020, which is the subject-matter of this piece. (Read more here.) The second complaint against him is in relation to comments he made about the COVID-19 vaccine. (Read more here.) These are the only two complaints that are in the public sphere. However, there might be more complaints as the JSC has said, in no uncertain terms, that it does not make all complaints against judges public – which is an unjustifiable position.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is made of up lawyers, politicians and judges, and a lone academic. With hearings happening twice a year in the first week of April and October, you might want to tune in to the live stream of the hearings and watch the JSC strut its stuff. This is a guide to who is who on the JSC panel.
In this series of articles, we looked at who the potential candidates for the role of the next Chief Justice might be, as well as various possible candidates according to categories. We have previously considered potential candidates if the next Chief Justice is to be a woman. In this article, we consider potential candidates if the next Chief Justice is drawn from current judges of the Constitutional Court – arguably the most obvious category of candidates.
In preceding articles Judges Matter considered the importance of the role of the Chief Justice and the qualities that a potential Chief Justice should possess. In this article, we discuss the process that is followed when a new Chief Justice is appointed.
In April 2021 (after a year’s delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic) the Judicial Service Commission sat for two weeks of marathon interviews for judicial appointments. In the end, a total of 75 candidates were interviewed for 39 judicial vacancies at courts across South Africa. In terms of section 174(6) of the Constitution, the president must appoint judges of all courts on the advice (or recommendation) of the JSC. Following the April 2021 interviews and the recommendations of the JSC, President Ramaphosa appointed 28 candidates as judges. They are ….
Will the next chief justice come from the current judges president?
We have previously considered potential candidates if the next Chief Justice is to be a woman, as well as potential candidates from among current judges of the Constitutional Court. In this article, we consider potential candidates if the next Chief Justice is drawn from the judge presidents, who head divisions of the high court.