Madlanga weighs in on attacks against judiciary
‘It should be criticism that is fact-based and not calculated to bring the entire edifice of the judiciary into disrepute,’ says ConCourt justice
Criticism of the judiciary should never reach a level where it brings the courts to the point at which they no longer enjoy the respect they should have from the public.
Once that stage is reached, the idea of the rule of law no longer exists, candidate for the position of chief justice, Constitutional Court justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, said on Tuesday.
Madlanga was the first candidate to be interviewed for the position by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
Madlanga made these remarks when responding to a question from a commissioner, Northern Cape judge president Pule Tlaletsi.
He said the judiciary should continue to enjoy the legitimacy and confidence it deserves for the rule of law to function properly.
“As much as I accept there should be criticism, it should be criticism that is fact-based, and should not be criticism calculated to bring the entire edifice of the judiciary into disrepute,” he said.
Madlanga said people are entitled to criticise the judiciary.
“We are not beyond criticism and criticism can — and at times must — be robust and we must take it on the chin.”
He said there were differing approaches to addressing criticism of the judiciary that is not justified.
“The one approach is that it may be something that should be dealt with at a leadership level.”
Madlanga referred to the approach retired chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng took when he and the leadership of the judiciary approached former president Jacob Zuma at the time.
“Out of that process came a joint statement in which there was agreement on what is acceptable criticism and what is not.”
He said another approach is that under certain circumstances it may be perfectly proper for the head of the judiciary to address head-on unacceptable criticism that if allowed to go on, might be potentially injurious to the idea of the rule of law.
Madlanga was the first of four candidates to be interviewed.
On Wednesday, the JSC will interview Supreme Court of Appeal president Mandisa Maya, followed by Gauteng judge president Dunstan Mlambo on Thursday and acting chief justice Raymond Zondo on Friday.
The interview continues.
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