Wim Trengove SC is one of South Africa’s sharpest legal minds. He is a silk of integrity and independent-mindedness whose appearances in court have generally been for the marginalised. So, when he breaks ranks with the secretive legal fraternity’s modus operandi and goes on the record — as he does in this newspaper — in voicing concerns about the political loading of the Judicial Service Commission and the effect on its independence and vision for our judiciary, his comments cannot be dismissed as ‘liberal” or ‘counter-revolutionary” whingeing. We are all required to listen.
Trengove has articulated, in essence, the perceptions of many South Africans: the JSC is suffering a crisis of credibility and consequently the judiciary is too. How else to explain the reticence of judges to avail themselves for the Constitutional Court vacancy that goes unfilled despite twice being advertised? The separation of powers is imperative to a constitutional democracy. The separation of conscience and constituency by those on the JSC is likewise vital to an independent judiciary and the healthy functioning of this republic.