SA has always been ready for a female chief justice, says judge Maya
SA has always been ready to have a female chief justice and has had strong women capable of filling the post, Supreme Court of Appeal president Mandisa Maya said on Wednesday.
Maya is one of four candidates being interviewed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) this week for the chief justice post.
Maya was responding to a question by commissioner Pule Tlaletsi, Northern Cape judge president, who prefaced his question by saying he knew the country always had good women judges with impeccable credentials who could have been appointed, and their appointment should not appear as a miracle.
“This leads me to the next question, which was asked yesterday: is SA ready for the appointment of a woman chief justice?
“I do not know if your answer is: SA has always been ready. Perhaps those vested with powers [to appoint] may not have been ready?” Tlaletsi said.
Maya said she appreciated the sentiment behind the question.
“I do not think it is a proper question to ask because it implies all sorts of negative things. But the short answer is SA has always been ready to have a female chief justice at inception,” Maya replied.
Why are we asking about women as if we are this special group that needs to be done a favour, to keep checking if they are ready?Judge Mandisa Maya
She said the country had strong, capable women in the Constitutional Court.
“We had justice [Yvonne] Mokgoro and justice [Kate] O’Regan and we know them and what they are capable of. In other courts as well, there has never been a shortage of women who could take up leadership in any of the rungs of this institution.”
She said this question annoyed many women.
“I have heard people ask: Was it ever asked if SA is ready for a black chief justice and if not, why?
“Why are we asking about women as if we are this special group that needs to be done a favour, to keep checking if they are ready?”
The interview continues.
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