NEWS & ANALYSIS

Zuma extends Judge Sandile Ngcobo's term of office

President decides Chief Justice should serve until August 2016

Statement by President Zuma on the extension of Judge Ngcobo's Service

03 June 2011

I met with leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly today, on the 3rd of June at Tuynhuys in Cape Town.

I briefed the parties on a number of domestic and international issues including the country's new membership of BRICS as well as the peace processes in Cote d'Ivoire and Libya.

I was able to thank the political parties directly for the successful local government elections which had emphasized the country's maturing democracy. 

The meeting also enabled me to brief the parties on my decision to retain Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo in active service as the Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa. On 15 August this year Chief Justice Ngcobo would be eligible for discharge from active service. Chief Justice Ngcobo was appointed as a judge on 15 April 1996.  On 15 August 1999 he was appointed as a Constitutional Court judge and was subsequently appointed as Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa on 12 October 2009.

On 15 August 2011, Chief Justice Ngcobo would have held office as a judge and Constitutional Court judge for a cumulative period of 15 years and 3 months.  A judge of the Constitutional Court must serve 12 years at the Constitutional Court if he or she had served a minimum of three years as a judge at another court before he or she was appointed to the Constitutional Court.  Chief Justice Ngcobo falls under this category. 

A Chief Justice who has served for a period of 12 years at the Constitutional Court plus a minimum of three years at another court before he or she was appointed at the constitutional court, or a Chief Justice who served straight 15 years at the constitutional court maybe requested by the President to continue to serve as a Chief Justice for such period as may be determined by the President.

This will happen provided that the period does not extend beyond the judge's 75 years of age. At 75 years of age he or she must be discharged from active service.  Acting in terms of Section 8 (a) the Judges Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act of 2001, I requested Chief Justice Ngcobo to continue to perform active service as the Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa with effect from 16 August 2011 until 15 August 2016. He has agreed to my request.

I have also informed the Judicial Service Commission of this matter.

Chief Justice Ngcobo, in under 18 months that he has been at the helm of the Judiciary, has made an indelible mark in this prestigious and highly esteemed office. He continues to play a significant role in establishing institutional reforms that seek to define the role and place of the judiciary within the context of judicial independence and separation of powers embodied in our Constitution.

There is general optimism and renewed hope, especially within the judicial and legal sector, that the initiatives undertaken jointly by the Government and the judiciary will accelerate the pace of judicial reform.

I am confident that the decision I have taken in requesting the Chief Justice to continue to perform active service and his subsequent acceptance of my request will promote the maintenance of stability and progress within this important Branch of the State.

I am optimistic as well that the Chief Justice assisted by Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and all in the leadership of the judiciary will continue to provide sound judicial leadership and guidance of this important Branch of Government.

I wish Chief Justice Ngcobo well in the crucial responsibility of serving the nation to build a judiciary that we will all be proud of.

Statement issued by The Presidency, June 2 2011

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