More women trying for appeal court judgeships

04 April 2016 - 02:19 By Aarti J Narsee

Almost half of the candidates being interviewed for Supreme Court of Appeal vacancies this week are women.The Judicial Service Commission starts five days of hearings in Cape Town today with 14 women on the list of 34 people to be interviewed.Three of the seven appeal court candidates are women."From the time I have been observing the panel it is the largest number of women applying for the SCA. It is definitely progress," said Tabeth Masengu, of the University of Cape Town's democratic governance and rights unit.Alison Tilley, of the Judges Matter Coalition, said the total number of women being interviewed was "no more than usual" but the number applying for the appeal court was encouraging.Candidates are vying for positions that include two appeal court judgeships and for the deputy judge-presidencies of KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape."Having different leadership positions in different provinces also gives you more context in terms of how the provinces function," said Masengu. "There is much more about the administrative problems, economic challenges and the legal issues that fester in those divisions," she said.Civil society will be watching closely when it comes to the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal positions because none of the candidates interviewed for these positions last year was appointed."The other concern we have is the situation in which there are no appointments and when candidates do not get enough votes. The question is whether this is becoming a trend," said Tilley.Judges Matter monitors the appointment interviews and believes judges and their judgments are becoming "more central to politics".Said Tilley: "How we appoint our judges is therefore very important, especially as most people do not know enough about the process of selection to comment on the selection of judges."

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