Judiciary is turning out to be where angels fear to tread - Times LIVE
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Judiciary is turning out to be where angels fear to tread

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2012-03-09 01:40:04.0

Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

The Times Editorial: The Judicial Service Commission has expressed its concern over the dearth of suitable candidates for South Africa's senior courts.

In the latest round of applications, there have either been no suitable or too few candidates for the vacancies on either the high courts or the Constitutional Court.

To fill one vacancy on the highest court in the land , the commission has to forward a list of four candidates to President Jacob Zuma for consideration. It has forwarded no names.

In the case of the South and North Gauteng high courts, only five names - including that of former Public Protector Selby Baqwa - have been put forward for six vacancies.

The electoral court, with one vacancy, had no nominations as the commission did not "receive nominations from sitting judges as required by the advertisement".

According to the commission, it had received several applications for the Constitutional Court vacancy, but had found no suitable candidates.

The fact that there are strict gender and race targets that must be met and that the JSC has made it clear it will stick to the quotas also serve as a deterrent to many skilled white candidates.

The commission last year refused to fill two vacancies on the bench of the Western Cape High Court because the only suitable candidates were white.

But is it really surprising that those "suitable candidates" are reluctant to apply for these posts at this particular time in South Africa, when ANC leaders have made repeated remarks about the Constitutional Court and curtailing its power?

Although last week's release of the guidelines for a judicial review offered more questions than clear direction, the intention to interrogate the Constitutional Court judgments is still sufficiently concerning to create an atmosphere of discomfort.

This, at the very least, should give the commission some serious food for thought.


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