Wanted: a safe pair of hands to guide our ConCourt

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has granted the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture ANOTHER three-month extension – its fifth! The hearings are all done: the extension is for deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo and team to write their report on state capture under former president Jacob Zuma. By the end of last year the commission had interviewed nearly 300 witnesses and collected 1bn gigabytes of evidence. That’s a LOT of homework!

The commission now has until 31 December to hand its report to President Cyril Ramaphosa – and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola is annoyed. He was against the extension, though he dropped a formal court challenge to it at the eleventh hour. The commission has cost us about R1bn so far; given that state capture cost SA anything from R500 billion to R1 trillion (directly and indirectly) we think the money was well spent buuuuut… it NEEDS to wrap up, already. 😬

Zondo has come under fire in some quarters for not running things more efficiently. It’s why he probably won’t make the cut for the all-important role of Chief Justice, despite his current position as deputy. 

That job needs to be filled pronto, by the way. There are a lot of concerns about the state of our top court. It has a couple of vacancies, and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s tenure ends on 11 October. Mogoeng has already effectively finished his term by going on long leave; his legacy is mixed and often controversial. 

The court is struggling with a heavy caseload, a shortage of justices, and didn’t cover itself with glory in how long it took to give reasons on its election date judgment, which divided political parties. It needs to be run better on the administrative front, too. 

Ramaphosa, who is in charge of making the appointment, invited public nominations for the position last month. This kind of transparency is a first. There are some strong candidates in the running, according to the M&G, including possibly the first woman chief justice. 💪🏽

Our top court has saved SA time and again. It needs to be in excellent hands. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 30 September 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.