JSC Act may be amended to allow more members to share workload

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo

Published Dec 8, 2023


Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said the recently held Judges Conference resolved that the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) Act be amended to allow more judges to sit on the structure.

This was one of the resolutions of the Judges Conference held in Sun City this week, where the Heads of Court met to discuss issues affecting the judiciary.

The Heads of Courts include the top presiding officers from the 10 High Court divisions, the Labour and Labour Appeal Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, Electoral Court, Land Claims Court, Competition Appeal Court, the Constitutional Court and the Magistrate’s Courts.

Zondo said there were currently only up to seven judges who were appointed to engage in work for the JSC such as complaints against judges.

Zondo said the Heads of Courts expressed concern that there was a public perception that complaints against judges took too long to finalise.

“We need to do what needs to be done to ensure that complaints are dealt with expeditiously,” said Zondo.

“But when the criticism is raised that the judiciary is delaying the finalisation because it is against our own colleagues, there is no merit to that. Any delays that might happen have nothing to do with that,” he said.

Zondo said complaints against judges were dealt with fairly, but said there were only five o seven judges who were members of the JSC who were also expected to contribute to the JSC while managing their own case load in court without any extra pay.

“Maybe we should also make it clear that they don't get paid separately for this. When I was at the (State Capture) Commission, there were some who thought I was getting two cheques,” he said, adding it was not the case.

Zondo said retired judges would be used based on their availability, as some of them were also busy with arbitration matters.

“We are going to ask for a JSC Act amendment to allow us to have more members so that complaints can be shared among many. In that way, it will be dealt with more expeditiously,” he said.

And on concerns around reserved judgments taking too long to finalise, the Judges Conference emphasised that very often the delays arose from the heavy workload judges were carrying.

“The conference acknowledges that judgments be handed down without undue delay. The situation should be looked at properly because sometimes there is too much work for judges,” said Zondo.

Another resolution that came out of the conference was that of the institutional independence of the judiciary, with the conference calling for a speedy resolution to the decades-old problem.

Zondo is expected to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa next week to discuss the matter.

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