The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was expected to begin its rerun of the Constitutional Court interviews after objections to the initial proceedings were lodged. Therefore, acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo chaired the JSC as it started proceedings with interviews for two seats on the Constitutional Court bench on Monday.
The JSC has recommended Supreme Court of Appeal justices, Rammaka Mathopo and Mahube Molemela, and Gauteng high court judges Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane, Bashier Vally and Jody Kollapen for appointment to the Constitutional Court.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will make his choice of two of these five to fill two vacancies at South Africa’s apex court. However, once these appointments have been made, the president must still fill a further two vacancies and appoint a chief justice before the Constitutional Court will have its full complement of 11 members.
The two candidates who lost out were Gauteng high court judge, David Unterhalter and senior counsel Alan Dodson. Unterhalter’s April interview was one of those that had been the focus of many of Casac’s complaints. It was also the longest of the day, and he sought to dispel some of the concerns that members of the JSC had raised about him in the last round. He had three years’ experience as a judge, as this did not count his 11 years of experience at the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Casac said it challenged the “unfair manner” of the interviews and the “total failure” of the JSC to conduct any meaningful deliberations on the attributes of the candidates that were interviewed. On the other hand, JSC spokesperson Advocate Dali Mpofu said they decided to settle with Casac to avoid unnecessary lengthy litigation that would have left the Constitutional Court with acting judges for two to three years. The interviews fo the vacancies in other superior courts will take place this week.