Commission voices doubts over candidate judges

A former politician and a controversial figure were the only candidates interviewed in Cape Town on Tuesday for a vacant judge position in the Bophuthatswana (North West) provincial division.

They are former Democratic Alliance MP Lawrence Lever, who left politics three years ago, and former North West acting judge Cecile Zwiegelaar.

According to documents submitted to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) by Bophutatswana Judge President Moegoeng Moegoeng, Zwiegelaar had failed to deliver judgements on time on a number of occasions.

She had also written an offensive letter to one of the permanent judges.

Despite having met and undertaken to deliver judgements on particular dates, she had repeatedly failed to fulfil her promise and did not bother to return messages enquiring about the reasons for the delay.

When asked by one of the JSC panellists, Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe, why she had failed to deliver on time, Zwiegelaar, who is currently a practising advocate, could not offer a valid reason apart from stating that she was busy with her law practice work.

“I think I was wrong and I’m really very sorry,” she said, adding that the delay was also due to the fact that she had to do further research on the cases she was dealing with before delivering judgement.

She also could not explain why she wrote an offensive letter to one of the permanent judges, saying the letter was sent by “mistake”.

In the case of Lever, who had been a DA member and MP from 1999 to 2004, Ngoepe said he was concerned that it was too soon to appoint him as a judge.

“Do you feel that you have created sufficient distance [from politics],” he said, adding that 2004 “sounds like yesterday”.

However, Lever assured the panellists that he was done with politics.

“Politics is something I believe I was not cut out for,” he said.

Lever received support from ANC MP and JSC member, Kgoshi Mokoena, who had served in the same committee as him in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Kgoshi told the panel that the former DA MP was a hard working patriot.

“He had always put his country before his party,” he said.

The JSC is currently interviewing judge candidates for vacant positions across the country’s provincial divisions. - Sapa

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