For two weeks between 15 and 24 February 2021, the Appointments Committee of the Magistrates Commission sat in Pretoria to interview candidates for entry-level magistrates’ positions and also Head of Office (HOO) positions. These interviews were the last set interviews for entry-level magistrates’ positions and HOO positions. These interviews were a continuation of the interview session that commenced between 2 and 21 November 2020. The Appointments Committee took a break for a period of two weeks in 2020 and commenced the interview process between 30 November and 9 December 2020. The interview process ran until 2021, as a result Committee commenced again with the interview process between 18 and 28 January 2021.
The interview session that took place between 15 and 24 February 2021 will cover the provinces of North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
The interview session that took place between 15 and 24 February 2021 will cover the provinces of North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. During this session, the Appointments Committee interviewed a total of 87 candidates for 45 posts. Of the 45 posts, 7 are in respect of Head of Office positions and 38 are in respect of entry-level magistrates’ positions.
The Magistrates Commission seeks to fill 186 magistrates’ vacancies through the interview process that it has undertaken. A total of four interview sessions have taken place thus far. At the end of the interviews on 24 February 2021, the Appointments Committee will have interviewed approximately 481 candidates for entry-level magistrates’ positions. It should however be noted that there are a few candidates who had already been shortlisted that decided not to undergo the interview process, for various reasons.
At the end of the interviews on 24 February 2021, the Appointments Committee will have interviewed approximately 481 candidates for entry-level magistrates’ positions.
The Magistrates Commission is the statutory body responsible for advising the Minister of Justice on magisterial appointments. When there is a vacancy at a magistrates court, the Appointments Committee of the Magistrates Commission calls for applications and conducts structured interviews to assess the fitness and suitability of the candidates. Each candidate is asked a broadly standard set of questions in an interview that runs for about 30 minutes. The interview panel is made up the 8 members of the Appointments Committee, which includes members of Parliament, the head of the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI), two chief magistrates and the Cluster Head of the region for which the appointment will be made. The Committee is chaired by a Regional Court President.
Following the interviews, the Appointments Committee draws up a list of candidates to present to the full Magistrates Commission for its consideration. The Commission will then recommend these candidates to the Minister of Justice, who will then confirm the appointments. We have previously written about the process of getting appointed as a magistrate, comparing it with the process of being appointed as a judge.
Although it has proven challenging to ensure access to justice during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is impressive to note the Appointments Committee’s determination to continue with these interviews and within the boundaries of the health restrictions in place. This is commendable conduct by the Magistrates Commission.
Magistrates Matter attended the interview session which ran between 2 and 21 November 2020 and between 18 and 28 January 2021. A summary of the highlights from the interviews, including audio recordings and observations of the proceedings will be made available as soon as possible.
Magistrates Matter will however not be attending the interviews scheduled to take place between 15 and 24 February 2021.