The civil rights organisation AfriForum is of the opinion that the shortlist of candidates for the post of Chief Justice indicates that the government is not serious about protecting the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
The list of candidates includes, among others, the current Judge President of the Western Cape John Hlophe. Hlophe has been charged with several offences by fellow judges and has been convicted of gross misconduct by the Judicial Service Committee. Another candidate, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, is still under parliamentary inquiry into her suitability as Public Protector. The investigation was launched after numerous findings that Mkhwebane made in her reports as Public Protector, which were later set aside by the courts. AfriForum also requested in 2020 that Mkhwebane resign after she was investigated for perjury.
According to recent media reports two experienced legal experts, Judge David Unterhalter and Adv. Alan Dodson, have apparently been removed from the shortlist because they are white.
“It paints an extremely worrying picture considering that it came to light before the Zondo Commission that the ANC’s cadre deployment commission also discussed the appointment of judges. It therefore begs the question: How do judges with such a dubious past make it to this shortlist? The ANC’s cadre deployment has already paralysed the country by appointing incompetent but loyal ANC members to positions of authority. It cannot be allowed that the legal system also becomes a victim of this corrupt agenda,” says Ernst van Zyl, Campaign Officer for Strategy and content at AfriForum.