Search for Next CJ: Justice Chitembwe Cries During JSC Interview

  • Justice Chitembwe Said Juma
    Justice Chitembwe Said Juma appearing before the JSC for his interview for the position of Chief Justice on Monday, April 12, 2021
  • High Court Judge Said Juma Chitembwe on Monday, April 12 became emotional and cried during the ongoing interviews on candidates seeking to be Kenya's next Chief Justice. 

    Chitembwe, who was the first candidate to be interviewed, was responding to a question by commissioner Evelyne Olwande of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on bail rights for accused persons. 

    He became emotional as he used his own personal experience where he had been charged with graft and the court took more than a month to determine whether he was entitled to bail. He faced the charges while he served as company secretary to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), which was prior to his entry into the judiciary. 

    "When you go through the process you know better. My personal experience was me and the CEO of NSSF were prosecuted, then two lawyers joined the case with the intention to delay it, they filed the case to stop the hearing of the case," an emotional Chitembwe said.

    Former Chief Justice David Maraga (right) hands over documents to acting Chief Justice DCJ Philomena Mwilu (left) at a ceremony held at the Supreme Court on Monday, January 11, 2021

    Chitembwe said that he and the NSSF boss had moved to the court of appeal in a bid to have them granted bail.

    He went ahead and told the interviewing commissioners that he was yet to understand how his request for bail took 30 days.

    "It’s the wearer of the shoe that knows, but mine cannot be a bad example because we were heard in one year and the magistrate ruled there was no case to answer."

    The judge added that many Kenyans end up spending too many days in jail when a decision on whether one gets bail or not should be quickly determined. 

    He also said he had learnt from the experience, on the need to give a listening ear to accused persons before issuing a ruling. 

    "As you sit as a judicial officer you should be able to hear the accused before you,” he added.

    Earlier on, the judge had been asked by Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu to tell the commissions some of the changes that he was planning to bring on board.

    Chitembwe was responded by saying that he did not think there was any problem at the Supreme court that needed fixing.

    When pressed even harder by Justice Mohamed Warsame, he said that he would only focus on fixing the backlog of cases.

    "I am not going to say I am going to fix this. I will only fix the backlog of cases," he said.

    The other candidates are expected to appear before the interviewing panel for the next nine days with each applicant being given one day to defend their application.

    The remaining candidates are Justice William Ouko, Justice Martha Koome, Justice Njagi Marete, Justice Mathews Nderi, Senior Counsel Fredrick Ngatia, Prof Kameri Mbote, Senior Counsel Philip Murgor, Prof Wekesa Moni and Ms Alice Jepkoech.

    File image of the Kenya supreme court
    File image of the Kenya supreme court