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Appointment of judges: The law is law

It is appointment of judges season in South Africa, and all manner of applicants are pitching for the coveted jobs. On the 2019/20 figures, the yearly remuneration of judges changed into: Chief Justice - R2 896 107; Deputy Chief Justice - R2 606 428; judges of the Constitutional Court - R 2 316 919; President of the Supreme Court of Appeal - R2 606 428; his/her Deputy - R 2 461 674; judges of the SCA - R 2 316 919; Judge President of the High Court - R 2 172 165 ; his/her deputy - R 2 027 241; a decide of the High Court - R 1 882 486. (Government Gazette 25 March 2020)


The Booklet on the Conditions and Benefits for Judges shows that a decide has a preference among the subsequent motors (“in the magnificence involved”): Mercedes-Benz S350; BMW 740iA or any much less pricey sedan.

There are other blessings too severa to mention. Judges normally remain in carrier up to the age of 70 – evaluate that with the retirement age of other employees.

A judge who has been discharged from active service continues to attract a profits as much as the first day of the month wherein he/she dies. The income is calculated by means of dividing the real income he/she earned at the same time as in provider by way of 15; after which multiplying that by using the range of years he/she served. Let’s take the bottom of the figures cited above as an instance, and think the decide labored for eight years: R1 882 486÷15x8=R1 003 992.Fifty three per annum.


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When you take into account these bills and advantages, which are borne through the taxpayer, you may wish that handiest the first-class prison brains might pitch for judgeship. You could had been wrong: if what we've seen on social media is whatever to go through.

Because of space constraints I shall debate simplest two elements of the responses reputedly supplied with the aid of Advocate BR Tokota to questions asked with the aid of Mr Julius Malema.

Pressed on his records as a magistrate under apartheid rule, he argued the law is the regulation. Therefore, by implication, he had no preference but to put into effect it despite the fact that he may not accept as true with it.

He also contended some judges underneath apartheid did not follow certain apartheid laws. He advised such judges may increase the regulation into something extra humane.

Interestingly, he made the point that the law is the law after asking what he have to have completed during apartheid. Should he have decided no longer to grow to be a Justice of the Peace? That, precisely, is the difficulty. He had the choice to be part of the device or now not to be part of it.

He chose to be a part of the machine and implement its laws in pretty a good deal the same way many lawyers and judges elected to be a part of Adolf Hitler’s law machinery in Germany. Instructively, additionally they argued: Das Gesetz ist das Gesetz – the regulation is the regulation!

At Nuremburg they argued, in their defence, that that they had no preference – they had been best applying the regulation as they observed it. The tribunal held them accountable to a better prison fashionable: whilst the regulation denies natural justice, it have to be denied the nature of law! And legal professionals and judges ought to locate the moral braveness to do the proper issue in such occasions.

The second point Advocate Tokota argues is simply as doubtful. I actually have gathered from the interview that he is approximately sixty four years of age. It is secure to think he could recognise something about Professor Barend Van Niekerk and his misfortunes with the South African judiciary all through apartheid. Those misfortunes arose from his patience that judges need to permit section 6 of the Terrorism Act to fall into disuse by way of refusing to confess statements extracted from folks that had been detained under that regulation.

Precisely the point Advocate Tokota argues approximately judges having the potential to “broaden” the law and make it greater humane! To the satisfactory of my recollection Professor Van Niekerk changed into convicted two times by using the judges he entreated to “increase the law”, for making that argument.

Another example that Advocate Tokota has maintain of the incorrect stop of the stick, is the case In re Dube (1979). Under the Black Urban Areas Consolidation Act, a policeman could arrest an African male person who appeared to him to be idle; and make him seem before a Bantu Affairs Commissioner. If you could not deliver an awesome account of your self, the Commissioner may want to declare you “an idle and undesirable Bantu” and sentence you to a “labour colony”. Your case had to be sent to a choose to certify that what passed off to you appeared to him (the judge) to had been in accordance with justice.

Dube’s case become reviewed through Judge John Didcott. He said what had came about to Dube “may additionally have been in accordance with the regulation and, due to the fact what appears in regulation is the regulation, according with that too. But it can infrequently be stated to were ‘according with justice’; He launched Dube because the regulation required him to certify that he had been treated justly. But if the regulation had required him to certify that he were dealt with lawfully, the result might be special. The order become that if the regulation is apparent, and it's miles in struggle with justice, the law takes priority.

*Seloane is a researcher and publisherAppointment of judges: The law is law (

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Constitutional Court High Court R South Africa Supreme Court of Appeal


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