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22 January 2021 Magistrates Commission Interview Synopsis

On 22 January 2021, the Committee interviewed 9 candidates. The candidates were interviewed for entry-level posts in the magistrates courts in Mbizana, Mthatha, Tabankulu, Ngcobo, Kwamhlanga and Mtubatuba. Some candidates who had been shortlisted had decided to withdraw from the interview, which is something that does happen from time-to-time.

On the morning of the interviews on this day some candidates showed tremendous resilience when they appeared before the Committee to be interviewed although they would be burying a loved one the following day. This goes to show that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the Commission as well as the candidates. When asked whether a candidate would be able to go ahead with the interview although tragedy had stricken, they showed willingness to attempt a good interview.

Although Cluster Heads try to ensure that the pose consistent questions to candidates it is inevitable that there will be different questions posed to candidates depending on the Cluster Head present for the interview. There are different matters that are prevalent in each different court. The cluster head present on this day, Ms Mviko, made it a point that candidates understood the cases that are prevalent in her cluster.

Some candidates were interviewed for the Ngcobo Magistrates’ Court. The most prevalent cases in Ngcobo relate to gender-based violence and violence relating to possession of firearms. Ngcobo has a relatively high crime rate as compared to other rural areas in the Easter Cape. Candidates needed to understand that if appointed as magistrates in courts such as Ngcobo Magistrates Court they would preside over very serious criminal cases.

It was surprising that some candidates could not recall cases they listed in their application form, when asked about them. The line of questioning does change slightly if a candidate has listed a case that the commissioners cannot resist to ask them about. The issue of “ukuthwala” was raised by one of the commissioners during the interviews. “Ukuthwala” occurs when a young girl or woman is abducted by a man with his friends or peers for the sole purpose of compelling the girl or young woman’s family to enter into marriage negotiations, which the young girl or woman has not consented to. The practice of ukuthwala was endorsed in various cultures. However, ukuthwala has rightly been criminalised as it infringes on the young girl or woman’s inherent rights in terms of the bill of rights. This practice also has led to the crime of rape being committed. The South African justice system has made great strides by ensuring that this unlawful practice has been criminalised.