Good judges make good judgments.
Judges and the judgments they have made have increasingly become more central to politics in South Africa. The question of how we appoint our judges is therefore a very important one. How judges are appointed in South Africa matters to all South Africans.
How judges are appointed to the bench matters. The quality of our judges is determined by the quality of the process we use to appoint judges. We believe that the way judges are appointed should be transparent, fair and accessible to all people in South Africa. A good appointments process leads to good judges on the bench and good judges make good judgments.
In South Africa candidates are nominated to become judges by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) at the JSC interviews. Judges Matter is committed to monitoring the JSC interviews every year in order to bring transparency and awareness to this process. Judges Matter attends the interviews, which usually take place in April and October each year, as well as live streaming each round of the interviews for the public to watch.
Throughout the year Judges Matter also monitors the judiciary and does research into judicial governance processes and other topics of public interest. This includes; monitoring judicial conduct tribunals, researching the appointment process for acting judges, interrogating the criteria the JSC uses to nominate candidates to the bench, examining the governance of the magistracy, investigating statistics regarding the judiciary, writing thought pieces and more.
While the role of Judges Matter in the public space is constantly evolving, here are some of the activities Judges Matter currently performs to bring transparency to the JSC interviews and awareness of the judiciary to the public:
– Live streaming the JSC interviews for the public to watch
– Writing profiles on judicial candidates and synopses of their JSC interviews
– Making a video of each JSC candidate’s interview available on YouTube and our website
– Uploading transcripts of each JSC interview to our website
– Attendance at, and monitoring of the JSC Interviews
– Raising awareness of the JSC appointment process and the judiciary
– Supporting journalists and the media in their monitoring of the judiciary
– Writing of articles and thought pieces about the judiciary and JSC processes
– Further research and investigation into judicial governance processes
Meet the team
Alison Tilley is an attorney and the co-ordinator of the Judges Matter campaign. This monitors the JSC appointments process of judges and aims to improve civil society scrutiny of judicial appointments.
She has litigated on access to information and whistle-blowing issues in a number of High Court matters, the Labour Court, and the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal.
Her publications include “The Right to Know, The Right to Live”, edited by Richard Calland and herself, and she contributes to the Daily Maverick. She works on issues surrounding gender based violence, and particularly the roll out of sexual offences courts with the Rape Survivor Justice Campaign.
Zikhona Ndlebe is a Research and Advocacy Officer of the Judges Matter Organisation situated at the DGRU. Judges Matter monitors the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) appointments process of judges and aims to improve civil society scrutiny of judicial appointments.
Zikhona Ndlebe holds an LLB degree from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) and is currently studying towards an LLM specialising in Labour Law at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa with a High Court Right of Appearance. Subsequent to being admitted as an attorney she practiced as an attorney at one of the prestigious law firms in Cape Town and specialised in Labour and Employment Law. She has represented clients at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and at the various Bargaining Councils. She has appeared at the Labour Court and has been involved in court cases up to the Labour Appeal Court. Zikhona Ndlebe brings to the Judges Matter Organisation her Labour Law expertise and experience in legal practice.
Mbekezeli is a Research and Advocacy Officer of the Judges Matter Campaign at DGRU. Judges Matter aims to improve civil society scrutiny of the South African Judiciary through monitoring the appointment, governance and discipline of judges and magistrates.
Mbekezeli has litigated on issues relating to the right to education, the right to housing, and the right to protest for activists. He has been involved in cases that have come before courts at all levels of the court system, from the Magistrates Courts, up to and including the Constitutional Court. He has also made submissions at international bodies, including UN treaty bodies. He was recently selected as the Global Practitioner-in-Residence at Stanford Law School for the Spring Quarter 2019.
He holds an LLB from Wits University and is currently reading for an LLM at the University of Cape Town.
We hope that this website provides you, our reader with more information about the JSC, the judge interview process and the South African judicial system as a whole.