Judge candidate withdraws from JSC interviews, labelling them unfair
A magistrate who was hoping to be promoted to a judge on either the Mpumalanga or Limpopo high court benches on Friday decided to withdraw from the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) interview processes, labelling them unfair.
Antolize Lamminga withdrew from the proceedings via an e-mail to the commission and her notice was read by acting chief justice Raymond Zondo.
In the letter, Lamminga suggested that when she appeared before the commission on Wednesday to be interviewed for the Limpopo High Court post, she was unexpectedly asked to answer questions regarding a long outstanding matter she had on her roll.
The matter related to an armed robbery case which has been ongoing for almost six years without having gone to trial. Flabbergasted by this, commissioner and EFF MP Julius Malema criticised Lamminga, saying having matters outstanding for this long was paramount to denying justice.
She stood her ground, saying the delays had been because of matters beyond her control, including the accused’s move to change legal representation several times.
Magistrate Antolize Lamminga, who was interviewed on Wednesday for Limpopo and was shortlisted for Mpumalanga today, has written to the JSC objecting to her #JSCinterviews as unfair for being confronted with objections without preparation. She's therefore withdrawn from today. pic.twitter.com/D9DqKevJmt— Judges Matter (@WhyJudgesMatter) October 8, 2021
Malema questioned her abilities to handle high court matters, suggesting she was presently battling, but Lamminga replied this was solely his opinion.
“You accuse me of not being proactive. I am not helpless, but I can only do so much,” she said.
Lamminga said she felt it was not fair as she had not been prepared ahead of time for those questions, which she felt dominated the rest of her interview.
“Due to the way the interview was conducted, the process was not fair,” Lamminga said in her letter to the commission, adding that it had been impossible to answer the commission’s questions because she did not have access to the case record at the time.
While Lamminga was due to be interviewed again on Friday for a vacant position in the high court in Mpumalanga, she expressed the same matters would most likely be brought up and, like on Wednesday, she did not have access to the record and would again find it difficult to answer to those questions.
The commissioners expressed their discontent at Lamminga’s view that she had been unfairly treated, with Zondo saying he had given her an opportunity to say she would not be able to deal with the matter at that point if she felt she could not do so. Instead, Zondo said, she chose to proceed.
While some commissioners said they would tackle the matter once she reapplies, Supreme Court of Appeal judge president Mandisa Maya said it was best they also respond to her letter. Commissioners decided they would discuss her matter at a later stage.
Gauteng judge president Dustan Mlambo said in Gauteng, Lamminga would not have been invited to act as a judge due to this long outstanding court case, let alone be shortlisted for a permanent judge post.
Lamminga, who has served in acting judge positions from as far back as 2014, was one of three candidates who had been interviewed for the Limpopo post, but following the interviews the JSC chose not to shortlist her or the other two candidates for the position.
The interviews continue.