Lack of female judges worries JSC

The Judicial Services Commission remains concerned at the low number of women being nominated as judges, JSC spokesperson CP Fourie said on Tuesday.

“This concern is illustrated by the fact that of the 43 candidates that were shortlisted for the vacant positions, only 14 were women.

Of the 15 recommended candidates, five were women.

Fourie was speaking at a news briefing to release the names of candidates recommended for judicial vacancies, and submitted to President Jacob Zuma for final approval.

He said the Constitution required that the bench be broadly representative of the race and gender composition of South Africa, hence the concern over women candidates.

There were more women studying law, but they tended to not stick to the profession once they had graduated, making the pool of candidates smaller.

“A lot got into academics or become legal adviser and some don’t want to continue with their career,” he said.

“All we can do is get the message out and try and encourage women to stay in the profession,” he said.

On the list of candidates submitted to Zuma are:

  • Judge Khayelihle Kenneth Mthiyane as deputy president of the Supreme Court of Appeal;
  • Glenn Goosen, SC, as Eastern Cape High court judge;
  • Buyiswa Majiki as Electoral Court judge;
  • Johannes Daffue and Lepono Lekale as Free State High Court judges;
  • Judge President Chimanlal Patel as Judge President of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court;
  • Jacqueline Henriques, Zaba Nkosi, and Rashid Abdul Kader Vahed SC as judges in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court;
  • Zolashe Lallie and advocate Hilary Rabkin-Naicker as Labour Court judges;
  • Judge Ellem Jacob Francis, Tshifhiwa Maumele, Roland Sutherland, SC, Mmonoa Teffo as judges in the High Court in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Francis had been a judge in the Labour Court and his term came to an end. He applied for a position on either the Labour Court or the North or South Gauteng High Courts. He withdrew his candidacy for the Labour Court.

The JSC decided not to recommend anyone for the remaining vacancy and this would be readvertised.

Three positions in the Western Cape High Court were not filled as the interviews were postponed.

This was due to a ruling by the Western Cape High Court in favour of the Cape Bar Council and the Centre for Constitutional Rights in a dispute with the JSC over the process used to interview candidate judges.

The high court questioned some of the JSC’s procedures and ordered it to reconsider Western Cape applicants interviewed in April.

Among those interviewed for the Free State positions was Peter Fischer, a nephew of Bram Fischer, who was a leader of the SA Communist Party and the legal defence for a number of ANC leaders including former president Nelson Mandela during the Rivonia Trial in 1963 and 1964.

In KwaZulu-Natal, candidate judge president Patel was Acting Judge President of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court after the death of Herbert Msimang.

Another candidate in that province, Nkosi, raised concerns about the quality of interpreting in some cases and the need to address this to avoid injustices. — Sapa

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