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THE Justice and Constitutional Development minister will respond to a complaint tomorrow against his decision to appoint Mokotedi Mpshe as an acting judge.

THE Justice and Constitutional Development minister will respond to a complaint tomorrow against his decision to appoint Mokotedi Mpshe as an acting judge.

Minister Jeff Radebe is expected to announce whether he will adhere to calls by the Law Society of South Africa, (LSSA) the General Council of the Bar of SA, lobby group Freedom Under Law and the South African Institute of Race Relations to withdraw the appointment.

"The minister will deal with this issue on Thursday at a press conference in Cape Town," said spokesperson Tlali Tlali.

Mpshe was recently appointed acting judge of the North West high court while still retaining his position as deputy head of the National Prosecuting Authority.

The law bodies are opposed to Mpshe having dual roles.

"The LSSA believes the manner in which the acting position was canvassed - in terms of which the minister made both the nomination and the appointment - hints at executive interference in the judiciary," said its spokesperson Barbara Whittle.

Mpshe had been the acting head of the NPA for almost three years - until advocate Menzi Simelane was appointed to the top position in November.

While the law bodies question Mpshe's appointment, there is a major shortage of judges - with 26 vacancies waiting to be filled.

Gauteng alone has seven vacancies, including that of a deputy judge president.

When he assumed position ten months ago, Radebe said his first priority would be to appoint judges.

"My feeling is that we do not have enough judges. Since I have been appointed minister I get letters from judge presidents throughout the country asking me to appoint acting judges.

"In the current financial year we have resources set aside to appoint judges, magistrates and prosecutors," he told Sowetan in an exclusive interview.

Usually, judges are appointed by the country's president after being interviewed by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

However, Radebe has the right to nominate and appoint an acting judge without consulting with the JSC.

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