Justice Madlanga sets out his vision if he is appointed chief justice
SA's chief justice must lead the judiciary from the front in terms of the creation of the country’s worthy and lasting jurisprudence, Constitutional Court justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga said on Tuesday.
Madlanga was the first of the four candidates nominated for the position of chief justice to be interviewed.
On Wednesday, the Judicial Service Commission will interview Gauteng judge president Dunstan Mlambo, followed by Supreme Court of Appeal president Mandisa Maya on Thursday and deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo on Friday.
The JSC is expected to deliberate on Saturday on which candidate to recommend.
Acting Supreme Court of Appeal president Xola Petse, who is chairing the interview, asked Madlanga to explain his vision of a functional, efficient, accountable and independent judiciary.
“If appointed, I propose immediately to engage with heads of court and secretary of the office of the chief justice,” Madlanga said.
He said the idea would be to establish the extent of the chief justice's involvement in administrative functions.
“In striking a balance between administrative and judicial functions, we must pay particular attention to the fact that first and foremost a chief justice is a judge, a jurist. I believe that a chief justice must lead the judiciary from the front in terms of the creation of the country’s worthy and lasting jurisprudence,” Madlanga said.
Madlanga said depending on the nature of administrative functions that a chief justice now performs, one may have to look closely at them and see which ones, if any, one may have to be relieved of.
He said there were functions that were prescribed by the constitution and the law and said the chief justice must perform those.
“I should not be misunderstood. I am not saying that outside those, the chief justice must perform no other administrative [duties]. What I am saying is that the chief justice must not be a super secretary-general or a super director-general.”
He said the office of the chief justice (OCJ), which is the department responsible for the administration of the judiciary, is headed by a director-general.
Madlanga said for the past three or four years, the OCJ has had clean audits.
“All the more reason a chief justice should not be a super secretary-general.”
He said this did not mean that a chief justice should be in the dark as to what was happening in the administration of the judiciary and said there should be interaction between the chief justice and the head of the department of the OCJ.
“In the main, a chief justice must be a trendsetter in the creation of our jurisprudence. That for me is the core function of a chief justice.”
Madlanga said if appointed, he would move to have an amendment made to the provision in the constitution that a matter before the Constitutional Court must be heard by at least eight judges.
“One aspect that I feel conduces to a lot of injustice and which needs to be addressed is the problem of sitting even numbers.”
Madlanga said in recent times, there have been quite a few cases in which the judges in the court have been evenly tied.
“That is a very unfortunate outcome for litigants. Once we are evenly tied, the effect is that judgment appealed against stands. That is an injustice. I want to approach the minister, if appointed, to move that there be a constitutional amendment that we do away with the quorum of eight."
Madlanga said if appointed, he would meet the magistracy to hear the issues it had. He understood that there were issues the magistracy wanted addressed, including its transfer from the department of justice and constitutional development to the OCJ.
“To me, it makes a lot of sense that the magistracy and judges of superior courts have to be under the same umbrella. We are all judicial officers.”
The interview continues.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.