Call for chief justice nominations unprecedented but welcomed - group

The term of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ends on 11 October. Public nominations must be submitted by 1 October.

A screengrab shows Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng at the Constitutional Court, on 6 March 2018. Picture: SABC Digital News/youtube.com

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on members of the public to submit the names of people who could serve as the next chief justice of South Africa.

A move that’s been welcomed as a step in the right direction. The term of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ends on 11 October.

Public nominations must be submitted by 1 October.

A panel will shortlist three to five names and submit them to Ramaphosa by 29 October.

Led by former judge of the International Court of Justice and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, the panel includes Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, former Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

The timeline for the process means South Africa will need an acting chief justice from when Mogoeng's term ends until President Ramaphosa makes a final decision, as the Constitution empowers him to do.

Opening up the nominations process is unprecedented but a welcomed move, said Allison Tilley of the advocacy group, Judges Matters.

She said it was important there was a high level of confidence in the head of the judiciary.

“One of the ways of doing that is making sure that it is an open process and that people get to see who the candidates are and why they should and shouldn’t be appointed.”

Tilley said a chief justice needed to be a person of integrity, with an independent mind.

“The position is for the leadership of the judiciary and that’s not only a leader in terms of jurisprudence and legal thinking but also in terms of administration. With the Office of the Chief Justice, in that position, you are leading the judiciary as a whole,” she said.

Nominations will be published on the Presidency’s website on 4 October. Objections can be submitted until 15 October.

All nominations, with all supporting documents, must be sent to angeline@presidency.gov.za and cjnominations@gcis.gov.za by 1 October 2021. They must include:

• A nomination letter, including the contact details of the nominator;
• The nominee’s acceptance of the nomination and their contact details;
• Letters of support for the nomination, including contact details of persons or entities that support the nomination, including at least one letter of support from a professional body of legal practitioners, non-governmental organisation working in the field of human rights, or other legal field; and
• Any additional documentation that the person nominating the candidate for Chief Justice deems relevant.

All nominations and supporting documents (save for personal information) will be made public on the Presidency website by 4 October 2021.

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