The Next Chief Justice: A Look at the Legal Careers of the 4 Shortlisted Candidates

The Next Chief Justice: A Look at the Legal Careers of the 4 Shortlisted Candidates

  • The interview process ahead of the appointment of the next Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court begins on Tuesday, 1 February
  • Among those vying for the position are Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, who is first in line to be interviewed
  • South Africans will be able to watch the interview processes until Friday since they will be broadcasted live

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JOHANNESBURG - South Africans are one step closer to finding out who will become the next person to replace Mogoeng Mogoeng and become the next Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the shortlist of four candidates who are all in the running for the post last year. These candidates will be subjected to tough interview processes that will be led by the Judicial Service Commission from Tuesday, 1 February until Friday, 4 February.

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Next Chief justice, JSC interviews, Constitutional Court, Mbusyiseli Madlanga, Mandisa Maya, Dustan Mlambo, Raymond Zondo
The interview process to find the next Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court begins on Tuesday, 1 February. Images
Source: Getty Images

The South African public will also have the opportunity to witness the interview process as it will be shown live on television news channels and online platforms, such as YouTube.

Briefly News has taken an in-depth look at the candidates that are vying for the position and their journeys in the judiciary.

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1. Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga

Justice Mbusyiseli Madlanga was born on 27 March, 1962 in the Njijini village outside Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape. In 1996, Madlanga became the youngest person to be appointed as a judge of the High Court in Mthatha at the age of 34, reports SABC News.

Next Chief justice, JSC interviews, Constitutional Court, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga
Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga was the youngest person to join the High Court ranks in Mthatha at the age of 34. Image: Deaan Vivier
Source: Getty Images

He spent eight years practising as an advocate and as a commissioner of the JSC before he was appointed as justice in the Constitutional Court. In 2011, Madlanga was one of the commissioners who were on the panel that led the interview of former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

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He has been a justice in the Constitutional Court since 2013. According to The Citizen, Madlanga's accolades include multiple professorships in South Africa as well as on a global scale.

Madlanga has been accredited for monumental judgements in South Africa that include the New Movement judgement that stated that independent political candidates should be allowed to run for national office.

In 2016, Madlanga ruled that Section 11 of the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act was not in line with the Constitution because it limited the freedom of speech afforded to Members of Parliament.

The debate around this particular section came after the Economic Freedom Fighters were forcefully removed from Parliament for causing disturbances during former President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address.

In short, Madlanga stated that MPs should not be arrested or forcefully removed from Parliament should they cause disturbances or disruptions because they would be exercising their freedom of speech.

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2. President of the Supreme Court of Appeal Mandisa Maya

Mandisa Maya, who is the current President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, was born on 20 March, 1964 in Tsolo, Eastern Cape. Maya's highest qualification is an LLM, which she obtained from Duke University in the United States.

Next Chief justice, JSC interviews, Constitutional Court, President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Mandisa Maya
President of the Supreme Court of Appeal Mandisa Maya has served as an acting Judge of the Supreme Court in Namibia. Image: Simphiwe Nkwali
Source: Getty Images

Like Madlanga, Maya also served as a judge at the Mthatha High Court. She first joined the Mthatha High Court in 1999 as an acting judge while also serving at the Cape High Court and was fully stationed in Mthatha in 2000, according to the Supreme Court of Appeal website.

In 2005, Maya was appointed as an Acting Judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal before being appointed as a Judge of Appeal in 2006. In January 2011, Maya was appointed as an acting judge of the Constitutional Court until May of that year.

She also served as an acting judge of the Supreme Court in Namibia and the Appeal Court in Lesotho in 2008 and 2015 respectively. She Has been the president of the SCA since June 2017.

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According to The Citizen, Maya is the only woman who has been shortlisted and the only judge on the panel without controversy. Judge Matters also praises Maya for her high performance and for being instrumental in leading the SCA during a hard transitional period of online hearings.

3. Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo

Dustan Mlambo, the Gauteng Judge President, is not a man without controversy. Since the announcement that he had been shortlisted, there were a few objections sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa, according to IOL.

Mlambo was born in Bushbuckridge in the Limpopo province in 1960, however, he was raised in Emjindini, formally known as Barberton, in Mpumalanga.

Next Chief justice, JSC interviews, Constitutional Court, Gauteng Judge President, Dustan Mlambo
Dustan Mlambo is the current Gauteng Judge President. Image: @AndileMlondo/Twitter
Source: Twitter

His legal career includes heading the Labour Court as the Judge President after serving as an Acting Judge in 1997. Mlambo also headed the Labour Court of Appeal. During his tenure, Mlambo drew attention to labour brokering practices and stated that they limited employees' rights to labour protection.

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Mlambo occupied his current position as the Gauteng Judge President in November 2012 after he was appointed by Zuma, according to SABC News.

Some of Mlambo's most notably judgements include the Oscar Pistorius murder trial when he allowed news stations such as eNCA, Primedia and others to broadcast the parts of the trial on live television in 2014.

This was despite the Pistorius defence team being against the application that was brought forward by media houses.

4. Deputy Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Raymond Zondo

Raymond Zondo, who is the current Acting Chief Justice of ConCourt is probably one of the most well-known candidates on the list because of his role as the head of the State Capture Commission of Inquiry that had a tenure of three years.

Next Chief justice, JSC interviews, State Capture Commission of Inquiry, Zondo Commission, Raymond Zondo
Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was instrumental in the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma. Image: Veli Nhlapo
Source: Facebook

Zondo was born on 4 May, 1960 at Ixopo village in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province. Zondo's legal career includes being part of the Ministerial Task Team that drafted the new Labour Bill post-apartheid in 1994.

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He was part of the Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation in 1991 and 1992 which focused on investigating the violence that took place in South Africa in the early 1990s.

He went on to work as an Acting Judge of the Labour Court at the beginning of 1997 and was later permanently appointed that year. In May 1999, Zondo was onboarded as Judge of the Pretoria High Court, according to the ConCourt website.

He joined the Constitutional Court in 2011 as an Acting Judge and was then appointed as a Judge in August 2012. In 2017, Zondo was appointed as the Deputy Chief Justice.

According to The Citizen, Zondo has written 57 judgments since he joined ConCourt, which is a feat a few people have been able to achieve in South Africa.

Zondo is also notably known for his role in sending Zuma to prison for refusing to answer questions at the Zondo commission and subsequently defying an order placed by ConCourt.

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Arthur Fraser says Raymond Zondo is not fit for Chief Justice position

Briefly News previously reported that Arthur Fraser, the former National Commissioner of Correctional Services, has opposed Raymond Zondo's nomination to be the next Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court.

Fraser raised his objection to the nomination in a letter written to former judge, Navi Pillay, who currently chairs the panel that will be shortlisting candidates for President Cyril Ramaphosa to pick for the vacancy.

Fraser based his objection on Zondo's term as the chair of the State Capture Commission, highlighting that Zondo shows a lack of the necessary judicial independence.

Source: Briefly News

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