Legal NGO may tackle JSC over bias report

Freedom Under Law says if nobody challenged the JSC on the ‘bias report’, it would consider doing so.

Freedom Under Law says if nobody challenged the JSC on the ‘bias report’, it would consider the matter. Picture: RSC Inc

JOHANNESBURG - Legal NGO Freedom Under Law says if no one else challenges the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on the leaked 'racially bias report', it would consider the matter.

The report, by Izak Smuts, who has resigned from the commission, stated the JSC had a bias against appointing white male candidates and that it only did so in "exceptional circumstances". He said the best people were not appointed as judges.

Smuts added the JSC's decision had leaded him to despair and were irrational.

The JSC said it was about time the Constitutional Court made a decision on how transformation and merit relate to each other when new judges are appointed.

JSC advocate Dumise Ntsebeza is hugely frustrated at Smuts.

"If you are part and parcel of an institution and you find you cannot go along with the majority opinion, then you must get out of that institution."

Ntsebeza was quoted in the Sunday Independent as saying Smuts had a hidden agenda. He said the advocate was sour because the majority of the commission did not agree with his views on transformation.

He called Smuts' criticisms "despicable".

The JSC hit back at comments made by former commissioner Izak Smuts after he resigned this week.

Last week, the FUL's Johann Kriegler said it was 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 the body was angered by Smuts' resignation.

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