Two tried and tested lawmen set for bench in Eastern Cape

Two senior advocates have been recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to become judges in the Eastern Cape High Courts in Grahamstown and Bisho.

On Wednesday‚ the last day of the JSC’s interviews of candidates for vacant judicial positions‚ advocates Gerald Bloem SC and Selby Mbenenge SC were recommended after speedy deliberations by the commission.

Bloem‚ 55‚ from Grahamstown‚ has extensive experience working with the Legal Resources Centre and has acted as a judge in high courts in the Eastern Cape and Free State. He was nominated by Mbenenge for the position.

East London resident Mbenenge‚ who has experience as a prosecutor and an acting judge‚ told the commission that he did not apply to be a judge sooner because he had had a young family to look after.

“The truth is that if I had become a judge earlier I would not have been able to sustain my family‚” the 54-year-old said.

“I don’t regret it though because the making of a judge is a process…The experience‚ I believe‚ will make me contribute to the system.”

Bloem and Mbenenge were up against three other candidates. East London attorney Lusapo Maseti had withdrawn from the running due to personal reasons‚ which were not elaborated upon.

During the interview of Grahamstown advocate Richard Brooks‚ Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng questioned a testimonial by the bishop of Grahamstown which indicated that Brooks was “not racist”.

“Richard…communicates freely and openly with other nations…I know Richard to have ‘an African heart’‚” Bishop Ebenezer Ntlali wrote.

Brooks said that perhaps the bishop was conscious of the fact that Brooks is a white candidate at a time when there is a need for transformation.

Candidate Thembekile Malusi‚ an attorney from East London‚ experienced a case of déjà vu when he was interviewed a second time in as many years for a position as Eastern Cape judge. The issue of reserved judgments not delivered yet and complaints from clients came up in his interview last year.

This time‚ Malusi told the commission that he finalised his two outstanding reserved judgments on Tuesday – and he said that the timing was a mere “coincidence”.

Commissioners raised concerns about the status of a complaint clients laid with the Law Society against Malusi. Malusi had said the complaint was “managerial” in nature and he could not update the commission on the status of the complaint because he was busy with a stint as an acting judge.

Mogoeng said: “So you don’t know whether you are in trouble or not. How then do we recommend you for appointment?”

“It is not just management but it is about unprofessional conduct that your clients have raised against you…there is no use sugar-coating this…”

The only female candidate‚ Port Elizabeth Advocate Namawabo Msizi‚ was questioned about her possible lack of experience to be a judge. Commissioners also raised concerns that her recommendation letters from the legal fraternity seemed “lukewarm” and did not convey confidence in her ability to be a judge.

The JSC interviewed 21 candidates in Cape Town since Monday for six vacant judicial positions across the country. It also decided to recommend that President Jacob Zuma appoint Judges Nambitha Dambuza and Rammaka Mathopo to the Supreme Court of Appeal‚ Judge Achmat Jappie as KwaZulu-Natal Judge President and Judge Ephraim Makgoba as Limpopo Judge President. –

-TMG Courts and Law, RDM News Wire 

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