The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has recommended that Judge Mandisa Maya, President of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), be appointed as South Africa’s first female Chief Justice after some thought.
Judge Maya was interviewed alongside three other contenders for the position: Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Constitutional Court Judge Mbuyiseli Madlanga, and President of the Gauteng High Court Dunstan Mlambo.
Former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng stepped down in October 2021, leaving the Constitutional Court’s highest post vacant.
When Judge Mandisa Maya was quizzed for the Chief Justice post on Wednesday, some of the questioning was centrered on the fact that she was a trailblazer in the judiciary, particularly being the first woman to lead the SCA, which is only second to the highest court in the land.
While she is the JSC’s first choice, the final decision lies with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
During her interview, Judge Maya bemoaned the fact that there is still a lack of gender representation on the bench and called for more women to be appointed to the courts.
“We should refocus our efforts into developing women for the judiciary. The profession also has a responsibility. The state attorney must brief black and women lawyers and give these lawyers adequate experience to gain skills,”
Judge Mandisa Maya
In addition, Judge Maya also responded to insinuations that being appointed to the ConCourt would affect the smooth-running of the SCA, something she took issue with.
“I believe it is an advantage that I do not come from within the court, I see it as an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective from my time in the SCA and high court and to close the gap between the apex court and the rest of the judiciary,” Maya said.