President Jacob Zuma has received a report on the transformation of the judiciary from the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
The report is the result of an investigation conducted by the CGE after it received complaints from the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit at the University of Cape Town and the Sonke Gender Justice Network.
The two organisations lodged a complaint with the CGE pertaining to what they called gender discrimination in the appointment of judicial officers in SA. They said that between 2009 and 2012 the Judicial Services Commission interviewed a total of 211 candidates for 110 positions in the judiciary and only 24 women were appointed.
They further maintained that a fewer number of women being appointed to judicial positions goes against statistics that show that there are more female law graduates than male ones, and more female admitted attorneys than male ones. Furthermore, at the time when the complaint was lodged there were 561 female practising advocates nationally from a pool of 2 384.
President Zuma said he has noted the recommendations of the CGE report and thanked the Commission for its extensive investigation.
“The report will be processed by the relevant government departments,” he said.
Presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola said the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit and the Sonke Gender Justice Network cited the following parties as respondents: the President of the Republic of SA, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Judicial Service Commission, and the Chief Justice.
“They asked the CGE to investigate, among other factors, why there were significantly more male judicial officers at the time than female ones and why the disparity continues to exist. They further asked the CGE to conduct an assessment of South Africa’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women.
“After its investigation the CGE found that there was a slow pace of gender transformation in the judiciary, and the slow pace is applicable to both the permanent and acting judicial appointments,” he said.
The CGE identified critical barriers which lie behind the slow gender transformation such as lack of certainty of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) procedures and criteria in how it makes appointments; inaccessibility of venues selected by the JSC and lack of female leadership at institutions such as the Law Society of South Africa.