/ 2 September 2008

Chaskalson backs Constitutional Court

Former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson defended his successor, Pius Langa, in a letter on Tuesday, saying Langa had shown ”commendable leadership under extremely difficult conditions”.

Chaskalson was reacting to a report last week in the Times that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had to re-advertise posts in the Constitutional Court because no judge wanted to work there.

It quoted ”well-placed sources” as saying the Constitutional Court was ”not being run very well” and that there had long been ”whispers” about Langa’s perceived weak leadership of the court.

Chaskalson wrote in a letter, published in the Times: ”There is no substance whatever in the allegation that the court is in disarray, or in the ‘whispers’ that the chief justice is perceived to be a weak leader.

”I have the use of an office at the Constitutional Court and have remained in close contact with the court and its judges …

”The judges have an extremely good and positive relationship with one another and the chief justice has shown commendable leadership under extremely difficult conditions,” wrote Chaskalson.

”The allegation that there is no esprit de corps between the judges is simple false,” he added.

Langa and his colleagues at the Constitutional Court made headlines earlier this year after laying a complaint with the JSC against Cape Judge President John Hlophe. This was after Hlophe allegedly attempted to interfere with a Constitutional Court case related to ruling party president Jacob Zuma’s corruption case.

Hlophe has now asked the Johannesburg High Court to declare the actions of the judges of the Constitutional Court — who issued a media release about his alleged conduct without giving him an opportunity to respond — as unlawful. — Sapa