South Africa: Ducking Discipline - the JSC Is in Dereliction of Its Duties

opinion

If ever the time was ripe for a broad campaign to hold the JSC to account, it is now. The JSC is in blatant dereliction of its duties and this is a concern to all who care about South Africa's democracy.

There is a significant issue of discipline within the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), in two senses of the word.

First, the latest in a row of Judge John Hlophe complaints points to a worrying inability to deal with allegations of misconduct and this in the highest ranks of the institution.

Second, the JSC, the body constitutionally mandated to deal with judicial misconduct, is also legislatively obligated to produce annual reports on its work and submit these to Parliament. It has not done so since 2007, demonstrating a serious lack of discipline in respect of its legislative duties. Both of these failings should be a concern to us all.

The judiciary is arguably the most highly regarded arm of state, not least because it defended constitutional principles and values when these came under attack during the era of state capture. It is an institution that can broadly be proud of its fiercely guarded independence and integrity. However, there are cracks,...

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