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'Judiciary must be transformed'

Chief Justice says transformation is just as important as merit when appointing new judges.

When speaking about appointing white judges the chief justice said it is not always about merit.

CAPE TOWN - Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said on Tuesday the judiciary must be transformed and it doesn't need to apologise for this.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) made headlines this week after a leaked document by one of its commissioners spoke about a perception that it is against appointing white men as judges.

Mogoeng said the JSC, which has gathered in Cape Town to interview candidates for various courts this week has had a lengthy and robust debate about this issue, which was fleshed out in a document compiled by one of its own commissioners Izak Smuts.

He is it is not a constitutional requirement for the best of the best to be appointed.

"Merit does count but it is not all about merit. Transformation is just as important to avoid a situation that former President Nelson Mandela complained about. I think it was during the Rivonia trial where he said he felt like a black man in a white man's court."

Mogoeng said it was unfortunate that Smuts' document about transformation was leaked to the media as it was meant for internal debate.