Hlophe, Mkhwebane, Zondo, Maya: Presidency confirms candidates to become SA's next chief justice

Presidency confirms that 25 people were recommended for the position of chief justice but 'only eight nominations met the criteria'

Andisiwe Makinana Political correspondent
The Constitutional Court in session.
The Constitutional Court in session.

Despite 25 people being suggested to become SA's next chief justice, just eight met the criteria for the critical post.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who officially released the names of the eight-strong shortlist on Monday. They are:

  • Western Cape judge president John Hlophe;
  • public protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane;
  • Supreme Court of Appeal president justice Mandisa Maya;
  • deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo;
  • justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga;
  • former Cape Town city manager Dr Wallace Mgoqi;
  • Gauteng judge president Dunstan Mlambo; and
  • advocate Alan Nelson.

Ramaphosa last month invited South Africans to nominate “suitably qualified” candidates for the position, saying the move was intended to promote transparency and enable public participation in the recruiting for the chief justice position. The nomination process closed at midnight on Friday.

The presidency said in response to the call for public participation, 148 submissions, which consisted of 25 names, were made, with some individuals featuring in more than one submission.

Of the 25 names, only eight nominations met the criteria as set out in the call by the president,” said the presidency.

The criteria referred to stipulated the requirements:

  • 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 people 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.

The nominations panel, chaired by judge Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, assessed and scrutinised all submissions, said the statement.

The presidency has now invited South Africans to submit in writing any objections they may have regarding the nominees to angeline@presidency.gov.za and OSewpaul@justice.gov.za by 5pm on Friday October 15.

It said the panel would consider objections before submitting a shortlist of three to five names to Ramaphosa.

The panel is required to report to Ramaphosa by October 29.