JSC hits back at Smuts' criticism

The JSC says Izak Smuts is bitter because it never disagreed with him on transformation views.

The JSC says Izak Smuts is bitter because it never disagreed with him on transformation views.

JOHANNESBURG - The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Sunday hit back at comments made by former commissioner Izak Smuts after he resigned this week.

Smuts said the best people were not appointed as judges.

But the JSC'S Dumisa Ntsebeza was quoted in the Sunday Independent as saying Smuts had a hidden agenda.

Ntsebeza said the lawyer was sour because the majority of the commission did not agree with his views on transformation.

He called the Smuts' criticisms "despicable".

Freedom Under Law (FUL)'s Johann Kriegler said they were very concerned with what was happening.

"This week has hurt the JSC and the debates on the front pages of newspapers have caused public concern."

FUL threatened to take the JSC to court amid severe criticism of the body.

"If the JSC doesn't function properly then the ultimate risk is to you and me, [the people] on the street," Kriegler said.

He said they were angered by Smuts' resignation.

"If a senior advocate finds it impossible to carry on, there is something seriously amiss."

Smuts said the commission's questionable way of appointing judges was one of the reasons that led to his resignation.

He said senior advocates, like Jeremy Gauntlett and Clive Plasket, were overlooked for overdue promotions.