The Judicial Service Commission announced their short list of candidates to fill three vacant positions on the Supreme Court of Appeal. These names include Hangberg’s Judge Elizabeth Baartman and Athlone’s Judge Ashton Schippers.
Matriculating from Grassy Park High in 1982, Judge Baartmaan went on to complete a Bachelor of Jurisprudence in 1986 and Bachelor of Law in 1992 at the University of the Western Cape. She began her career as a prosecutor after which she became a magistrate in 1991. In 1995, she was appointed as head judge for Cape Town’s Family and Divorce Courts and in 2001; she became acting director of the Peoples Family Law Centre. In 2003, she began working as a senior advocate for the NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit and was promoted to its deputy director in 2005. By 2009, she was appointed to the Western Cape High Court as a permanent judge and in 2010, she became an acting judge at the Supreme Court of Appeals.
During her tenure at the NPA, she specialized in confiscating the illegally obtained assets of gangsters. Her time spent working in the family courts exposed her to scores of abuse cases and turned her into a passionate advocate for the rights of women and children. She has presided over several high profile cases, the most memorable of which was the case of Oscar Pistorius. The NPA had appealed the culpable homicide conviction of Pistorius, arguing that it was too lenient. Acting on the Supreme Court of Appeals, Judge Baartman was one of the judges that agreed with the NPA and gave Pistorius a much harsher murder conviction.
Judge Schippers, a Bridgetown High School matriculant, completed his masters in law at UNISA in 1988 and at Harvard in 1991. He started his career in 1983 and practiced as an attorney in Cape Town, Washington and New York. He is a member of the Cape Town and New York Bar associations, and became the chair the Cape Bar Council in 2004. He was an acting judge at the Western Cape High Court from 1998 and became a full time High Court judge in 2013. Judge Schippers is married with two children.
Judge Schippers had also been involved in numerous high profile cases, the most memorable of which is his judgement on the case of former SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. In 2014, Judge Schippers ordered the SABC to suspend Hlaudi and start disciplinary proceedings against him. This order upheld the findings of misconduct against Hlaudi by former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela.
The Supreme Court of Appeals is the second highest court in the land, with the Constitutional Court being the highest. The appeals court generally hears cases where previous judgements by other courts are being challenged on appeal. It can also decide on matters relating to parliament and the presidency.
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