Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

JSC to start afresh interviews for ConCourt justice candidates

This means the shortlist of candidates handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa will be set aside.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has agreed to start afresh interviews for candidates to fill vacant posts for justices in the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

This follows the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution’s (Casac’s) high court application challenging the constitutionality of the interviews conducted in April.

ALSO READ: Casac files court papers challenging JSC interviews for ConCourt judges

Casac had argued in court papers the manner of questioning of some of the candidates went beyond the bounds of what is permissible to determine the fitness and propriety of the candidates.

The JSC decided to settle the matter out of court and the settlement agreement was submitted to the Johannesburg High court, according to Casac’s executive secretary Lawson Naidoo.

This means the shortlist of the candidates handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his consideration would be set aside. The shortlisted candidates included Jody Kollapen, Mahube Molemela, Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane, Rammaka Mathopo and Bashier Vally.

In terms of section 174(4) of the Constitution, the president appoints justices of the ConCourt following consultation with the chief justice and leaders of political parties represented in the JSC.

Candidates ‘prejudiced’

Naidoo previously said some of the questions asked during the interviews were irrelevant and aimed at ambushing the candidates.

He said this resulted in them suffering severe prejudice.

“The interviews are not a platform for party politics; they are not there for the JSC to investigate and evaluate complaints against judges and they are not there to give commissioners a chance to quibble with judgments they lost as litigants. Nor do they exist to enable individual commissioners to ventilate grudges against judges,” Naidoo said.

“Party political considerations and political agendas should play no role in the JSC’s decisions and processes. The JSC’s obligation to guard its independence and, through it, the judiciary’s independence rests on each individual commissioner as well as the JSC chairperson who has the ultimate responsibility to control the conduct of meetings, interviews and deliberations.”

The interviews for the ConCourt’s two vacancies are expected to be held on 4-8 October 2021.