JSC recommends Mahube Molemela for Judge President

One of the candidates for the position of Judge President of the Free State High Court, Judge Mojalefa Rampai. (David Harrison, M&G)

One of the candidates for the position of Judge President of the Free State High Court, Judge Mojalefa Rampai. (David Harrison, M&G)

Judge Mahube Molemela has been recommended for the appointment of Judge President of the Free State High court. The recommendation was made by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in Cape Town on Tuesday evening. 

The JSC is interviewing candidates for vacancies in the high courts in the Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape, as well as the Labour Court and the Water Board.  Molemela was among four other candidates – judges Connie Mocumie, Jake Moloi and Mojafela Rampai. Molemela was the only candidate who was not interviewed during the first round of interviews for the post in April.
The JSC did not make an appointment then. 

Earlier Molemela told the JSC: “I don’t mean to be cocky but if you appoint me it won’t be based on my gender. No self-respecting judge accepts appointment based solely on their gender. … I am meritorious. The fact that I’m a woman is just an added advantage.”

She identified challenges in the high court that needed addressing. These included court roll management. She said the court roll had at times been circulated to judges on the Friday before their cases began on Monday.  Molemela said this put additional stress on judges. She is also a CCMA commissioner and said on Tuesday that her mediation training would come in handy when resolving tensions on the bench.  Molemela said she was confident that she would command the respect of the other judges despite the existence of more senior judges on the bench. 

Earlier on Tuesday, the issue of gender transformation in the judiciary was a strong theme. Candidates lamented the blockages that female lawyers and judges face within the legal profession. These include a “boys club”, which gate-keeps positions for its peers, and a head start given to their male counterparts by virtue of their historical privilege, which necessarily means male candidates are more experienced. 

Both female candidates, Molemela and Mocumie, on Tuesday explained that in the profession, judges are invited to act in the high courts by their peers. It is not customary for a candidate to ask to be appointed as an acting judge. This leaves the cherry picking of prospective judges up to the “boys club”, which has traditionally dominated the industry, generally.

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics.  Read more from Sarah Evans

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