Bench pressing: Will it be third time lucky for advocate hoping to become a judge?

12 April 2018 - 10:27
By Ernest Mabuza
Judge court gavel
Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto Judge court gavel

Veteran advocate Ian Topping is putting his hand up for a third time for a spot on the KwaZulu-Natal Bench.

Topping SC made two similar attempts in October 2016 and April 2017 before the Judicial Service Commission. On his first try‚ Topping was taken to task by EFF leader and JSC commissioner Julius Malema.

Malema had accused Topping of "arrogance‚ bordering on racism" after he admitted to a lack of knowledge about customary marriage. Topping‚ who has been an advocate since 1992‚ said he had acquired a basic grasp of the Zulu language while growing up among black people on his parents' farm.

Malema questioned how Topping could claim to have grown up with people whose ceremonies he had never attended. 

Topping said he had left the farm at the age of 12 so perhaps it was not entirely accurate to say he had grown up on the farm‚ but he maintained that he had cemented childhood friendships there.

The interviews at the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand for vacancies in the High Courts in KwaZulu-Natal and Free State will continue on Thursday. Seven candidates are being interviewed for two vacancies in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court‚ while three candidates will be interviewed for two vacancies in the Free State High Court.

On Wednesday‚ the interviews set down for the day were rescheduled due to the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela memorial that was held in Soweto.

The Judicial Service Commission held interviews on Monday and Tuesday and made recommendations for appointments to the Supreme Court of Appeal‚ the Electoral Court and the Competition Appeal Court.