Shortly before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was about to start with it’s re-interview process for positions on the Constitutional Court’s bench today, Liberty Fighters Network (LFN) lodged a court application. In it, LFN appeals an order by the Johannesburg High Court which made an alleged settlement between the regulator of the judiciary and the NGO Casac (Council for the Advancement of the Constitution), an order of the court. LFN’s lodgement suspends the operation and execution of that court order in terms of Section 18(1) of the Superior Courts Act.
This LFN application follows its earlier challenge to have the order rescinded urgently, prior to the re-interviews taking place. LFN was, however, not successful in arguing the urgency last week. LFN says that the settlement agreement between Casac – firmly sitting in the Ramaphosa corner – and the JSC is invalid (if it existed at all) and that the charade around it was likely designed to push the candidates preferred by Casac on the short-list from which the President is supposed to appoint judges for the highest judicial positions at the Constitutional Court. LFN suspects that the JSC and Casac colluded in doing so.
“While the JSC initially confirmed that no record existed to prove that a settlement agreement had been reached at all, last week rather mysteriously documentation to the opposite effect surfaced from their end,” LFN President Reyno De Beer reports. “The one question to be answered is this: did the entire JSC suffer from retrograde amnesia when denying the existence of these documents or are the documents fabricated?” The other question being the perhaps more obvious one: why did the JSC never seriously consider defending Casac’s argument, especially after it’s standing to bring the matter in the first place had already been challenged? “You are an organ of state. Your offices are filled to the brim with top legal practitioners. You are paid by public funds. You do your job. Someone who doesn’t like your decision brings a weak case which you can easily win. You quickly settle. Yeah. Right.”
In the meanwhile, three commissioners of the regulator, under the request of anonymity, indicated to LFN that they wished to distance themselves from the matter and do not want to be cited as parties. It seems as if there are still commissioners who realise that the JSC is possibly taking a dangerous path; one that might lead to the further eradication of the People’s trust in our Courts. “Notwithstanding that the re-interviews are supposed to come to a hold until the appeal is finalised, we are almost certain – considering the haste and cutting of corners by the JSC and even courts in this matter that the re-interviews will continue. But ignorance is not always a bliss” so the LFN President.
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