JSC yet to fill vacant top court position
The JSC struggles to fill vacancies as women continue to be underrepresented in SA’s highest court
The Judicial Service Commission is still struggling to fill a vacancy on the Constitutional Court bench, for which it has re-opened nominations.
This comes at a time when there are only three women justices sitting in the highest court in the land.
The Constitutional Court has been male dominated since its establishment, and there were no female candidates in the last round of JSC interviews.
In recent years, the JSC has often struggled to scrape together a short list for the Constitutional Court.
The retirements of Justice Johann van der Westhuizen in January 2016 and Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke in May created two vacancies.
The JSC will conduct interviews to fill Justice Van der Westhuizen’s position. The president has discretion to appoint a deputy chief justice.
The JSC on Thursday invited nominations to fill the vacancy.
In October 2016, Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Ronnie Bosielo’s withdrawal from his JSC interview shattered the entire interview process.
This was because the JSC was constitutionally required to give at least four names to President Jacob Zuma, from which he would make an appointment. There were four candidates, including Justice Bosielo, who were to be interviewed.
However, his withdrawal meant the JSC could not process the other interviews.
The other candidates who were to be interviewed at the time were Steven Majiedt and Malcolm Wallis, and Gauteng High Court Judge Jody Kollapen.
Bosielo withdrew because he was linked to a black economic empowerment deal with Northam Platinum involving his home village in the North West.
During his interview‚ before he withdrew his candidacy‚ Bosielo said his involvement in the deal was only to benefit his community and that he had not personally benefited.
However, it was alleged he had benefited from the deal.
He did concede during his interview that his wife was a director in a company which stood to benefit from the deal.
Bosielo agreed that the JSC was not the correct forum at which to clear his name‚ and withdrew from the race.
Zuma appointed Justice Bess Nkabinde, one of the three women on the bench and the most senior justice on the bench, as acting deputy chief justice after Moseneke hung up his robe in May 2015.
The Constitution states that it is up to the president to appoint the chief justice and the deputy chief justice.