A senior researcher at Casac Dan Mafora has slammed Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s remarks as unfortunate and ill-advised, considering the fact that the constitution guarantees judicial independence in return for judges staying clear of political controversy and partisan politics in order n order to carry out their judicial function impartially and without fear or favour.
“The Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to ‘not publicly comment on the merits of any case pending before, or determined by, that judge or any other court’ and to ‘not express views in a manner which may undermine the standing and integrity of the judiciary’,” Mafora said in a statement.
Casac (The Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution) was responding to the remarks made by Zondo in regards to the pending litigation against former president Jacob Zuma over the arms deal scandal in an interview on Newzroom Afrika where he shared his views on the implementation of the recommendations of the State Capture Commission, judicial misconduct as well as the pending prosecution of Zuma.
Casac also said Zondo’s remarks could potentially undermine the legitimacy of judgements and the judiciary and crossed the boundaries of acceptable behaviour from a judge.
“The chief justice’s venture into speculation and commentary over which he holds no personal knowledge, could potentially create an atmosphere in which both his and the judiciary’s standing becomes questionable”.
The organisation has called on Zondo to exercise restraint in any future public engagements.
“It is important to remember that the job of Chief Justice is primarily that of a judge and that the office of a judge requires prudence, restraint and the maintenance of comity between the judiciary and the other two arms of the state,” Casac said.