Judge speaks on transformation during SCA interview

09 April 2018 - 16:22
By Ernest Mabuza
Image: Thinkstock

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Trevor Gorven said he would always be available to act at the Supreme Court of Appeal‚ but would have to carefully consider putting himself forward again for nomination if he was unsuccessful.

Gorven was being interviewed for a position as an SCA judge for the third time.

Ten judges were shortlisted for three positions at the court. This was reduced to nine when Judge Colin Lamont withdrew his application.

Gorven told the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that he was ready to be judge of the appellate court and had a range of exposure which would be of benefit to the court.

SCA President Mandisa Maya commended Gorven as a hard working‚ sound and well-rounded judge who was very helpful to colleagues‚ especially the junior ones.

Maya said she knew Gorven was deeply committed to transformation.

However she asked Gorven if the JSC were to find that three women qualified‚ what would he advise the JSC to do.

Gorven said he believed he could still make a contribution to transformation of the court by supporting others who had not had the kind of experience and background as he had.

Maya asked in the event he was not recommended for appointment‚ whether he would put himself up for nomination for the fourth time and would he still be able to act at the SCA.

Gorven said he would always be available to act at the SCA.

On the question of whether he would put himself forward for nomination again‚ Gorven said he would have to carefully consider putting himself forward again.

“I cannot give a definitive answer. I would make myself available to act‚” Gorven said.

Gorven said the transformation rate in the legal system had been slow in absolute terms.

“But there were reasons for it based on the apartheid system. Many previously disadvantaged lawyers were disadvantaged in practice for years and years.

“As a result‚ things developed in a skewed fashion.”

When asked by commissioner Dali Mpofu whether the bench could play a role in nudging the state and traditionally white firms in ensuring that black advocates and women obtained access to work that would prepare them for the bench‚ Gorven said formally‚ nothing could be officially done.

“On an informal level‚ is to mention to practitioners one rubs shoulders with is they should be looking at certain people they have ignored in the past. Until people get work‚ transformation cannot take place‚” Gorven said.

The interviews continue.