Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s term will come to an end on 11 October 2021, and President Cyril Ramaphosa has invited the public to submit their nominations to replace the outgoing Chief Justice.
Section 174 (3) of the Constitution empowers the President to appoint the next Chief Justice after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and the leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly.
Now, in an attempt to promote transparency and a first for the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the public to nominate those they think are suitable to be the next Chief Justice.
Any person may nominate candidates for the position of Chief Justice. These nominations should be accompanied by the endorsement and support of at least one professional body of legal practitioners or non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights or other legal areas.
Nominations should explain why the nominee is deemed suitable to be the next Chief Justice, their experience both as a legal practitioner, including any experience as a judge and as a leader.
They must include:
• A nomination letter, including the contact details of the nominator;
• The nominee’s acceptance of the nomination and their contact details;
• Letters of support for the nomination, including contact details of persons or entities that support the nomination, including at least one letter of support from a professional body of legal practitioners, non-governmental organisation working in the field of human rights, or other legal fields; and
• Any additional documentation that the person nominating the candidate for Chief Justice deems relevant.
All nominations and supporting documents (save for personal information) will be made public on the Presidency website by 4 October 2021.
Any objections to the nominees will need to be motivated, in writing, and sent to the above email address at the latest by Friday, 15 October 2021.
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2. Panel to shortlist nominees
After receiving the nominations, a panel of eminent persons with relevant experience will shortlist between 3 and 5 candidates.
The panel will consist of:
• Former Judge of the International Court of Justice and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, as chairperson,
• Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola,
• Former Minister of Justice Jeff Radebe,
• Former Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela,
• Co-chair of the South African National AIDS Council, Ms Mmapaseka Steve Letsike,
• Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law, Professor Ziyad Motala.
The Panel will be required to report to the President by Friday, 29 October 2021.
3. Consultation with Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Political Parties Leaders.
The President will decide which candidates from the shortlist to refer to the JSC and political parties represented in the National Assembly for consultation.
Ramaphosa said: “The Chief Justice occupies a vital position in our democratic constitutional order. It is therefore appropriate that all South Africans should have an opportunity to witness and participate in the selection of the next Chief Justice.”
“We expect that this process will further deepen public confidence in the independence and integrity of the judiciary,” he added.
In terms of the Constitution, the Chief Justice is “the head of the judiciary and exercises responsibility for establishing and monitoring norms and standards for the exercise of the judicial functions of all courts”.
The Chief Justice is responsible for leading the creation of jurisprudence as they preside over proceedings of the Constitutional Court.
They are also responsible for setting and overseeing the maintenance of the standards for exercising the judicial functions of our courts and chairing the Judicial Services Commission.