Judges hammer Radebe's bid to lay down the law

South Africa’s top judges oppose Justice Minister Jeff Radebe’s plans to make them declare their financial interests, the Times reported on Friday.

In Parliament on Thursday, the judge president of the Gauteng division of the high court, Bernard Ngoepe, and Supreme Court of Appeal judge Robert Nugent said more than 200 judges opposed the draft regulations.

The regulations could make them disclose their assets and business interests, and those of their families as part of Radebe’s judicial reforms.

Department of justice official JB Skhosana said judges were currently under no obligation to declare their business interests because the law providing for this was passed in 2010 and the required regulations were being worked on now.

The judges said there was no evidence to support the introduction of the regulations as there had only been one sitting judge found to have carried out questionable financial practices.

Nugent said disclosure of the financial and business interests of their families was an “irrational intrusion” of privacy and they would take this to the Constitutional Court if the draft was adopted.

Judges would support declarations made by sitting judges, with the chief justice controlling access to the register.

ANC MP and ad hoc committee chair Amos Matila said the proposal was being rejected because some within the judiciary could not explain their wealth.

Ngoepe said some senior counsel acted as judges and this might discourage them from doing so.—Sapa