Picture: 123RF/STOCK STUDIO44
Picture: 123RF/STOCK STUDIO44

If we are going to allow judges, magistrates and prosecutors to argue that they would earn considerably more if they worked in the private sector, we will provide them with an incentive to help defence attorneys earn more money, which can best be done by letting defence attorneys win more cases, thereby increasing the number of clients clamouring for their services.

I want to vomit when I hear of high court judges earning more than R150,000 a month, and frankly I'm tired of hearing about the need to transform the judiciary. If (black) candidates are motivated by a desire to get stinking rich — instead of a desire to serve their fellow man — we dont need them.

Simply put, a desire to become wealthy is a character flaw that should disqualify one from serving as a judge, magistrate or prosecutor. On this point, I note that a regional court prosecutor with a four-year degree and minimum of four years post-qualification experience earns between R510,432 and R1,2m a year. My life partner, a level-two schoolteacher, spent five years at university (obtaining a honours degree as well as a higher diploma in education) and earns — after 35 years of teaching — R484,000 a year.

Constitutional Court judges earn R2.4m a year, and like high court judges receive their salaries until they die, thereby freeing them of the need to contribute towards a pension fund. In the old days, an advocate had to be a silk (senior counsel) to be appointed as a judge and was required to serve as an advocate for at least 10 years  to be nominated as a silk. Accordingly,  candidates had usually accumulated considerable wealth and hence could afford to accept a salary cut in return for the honour of being appointed.

These days the pool of black candidates remains small and the government consequently is trying to attract newly qualified attorneys and advocates who are still poor and money-hungry. “Transformation at all costs” is the new mantra.

Terence Grant
Cape Town

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