Senior advocate Brad Wanless has withdrawn from the judicial race amid allegations of sexual impropriety. Wanless was up for a spot on the bench of the High Court in Johannesburg but withdrew yesterday, following a gruelling interview by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
A 2013 incident in which Wanless allegedly behaved inappropriately towards a colleague, took centre stage. He has vehemently denied the allegations, labelling them “unfounded” and suggesting they are the result of a colleague having an axe to grind with him.
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“I deny that in any way did I ever intend to make this particular lady feel in any way threatened or embarrassed or that in any way my behaviour was inappropriate,” he said yesterday.
He, however, withdrew after being prompted by some JSC members – including Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema – who emphasised a withdrawal would not amount to an admission of guilt.
They encouraged Wanless to have the allegations against him properly investigated and his name cleared before applying for judicial office again.
“I’ve contacted an attorney who will be instituting proceedings on my behalf to the legal practice council to investigate the allegations,” he said.
The allegations were contained in a review compiled by the Johannesburg Society of Advocates, saying a member – identified yesterday as advocate David Du Plessis – had brought them.
“At the conclusion of a fortnight-long hearing, the legal team and certain representatives of the litigant, including the member, said their goodbyes outside a coffee shop,” reads the review.
“One of the client’s representatives was a young woman. The candidate is alleged by the member to have placed his hands on the woman’s upper arms, drawn her towards him and kissed her full on the mouth.”
Wanless raised concerns with the way in which allegations had been placed in the public domain without giving him a chance to respond.