Judge a woman as you would a man

Staff Writer | Apr 10, 2019
There is a woman missing from the list of possible Concourt judges - why?

There is currently a round of interviews for two places on the Constitutional Court. There are five candidates. Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane is not one of them.

‘Professor Balthazar’ (Daily Maverick, Opinionista, 9 April 2019, identified as ‘In real life … one South Africa's foremost legal minds. He chooses to remain anonymous, so it doesn't interfere with his daily duties’) asked a number of colleagues in the legal profession for their reaction to her being left off the list. Everyone expressed the view that Judge Kathree-Setiloane should have been high on the list and certainly not the person who should have been omitted.

During her initial interview, Judge Kathree-Setiloane was asked about poor relationships with clerks from the period when she acted at the Constitutional Court. This was followed by questions concerning whether she was overbearing.

As Professor Balthazar said, this exchange was “truly saturated with irony, given the legitimate concern of members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) with the issue of gender equality. This was precisely the kind of comment that applies only to women — overbearing and over-assertive. Men, by contrast, are hardly subjected to the same characterisation, notwithstanding the number of rude men who have been judges over the decades.”

Professor Balthazar hopes that neither the description nor the spat with clerks constituted the reason for her omission and that the decision was taken purely on merit – contrary to the anecdotal evidence that the JSC considered the five proposed candidates more qualified to be Constitutional Court justices.


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