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New judge appointed to preside over Judge Makhubele con...

South Africa

GROUNDUP

New judge appointed to take over Judge Makhubele conduct hearing

Judge Tintswalo Nana Makhubele. (Photo: Judges Matter)

JSC is yet to confirm a date for the Judicial Conduct Tribunal more than two years after it was established.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has appointed a new judge to preside over the Judicial Conduct Tribunal into Judge Tintswalo Annah Nana Makhubele’s conduct.

This comes after retired Judge Fritz Brand, former tribunal president, chose to withdraw from proceedings despite correspondence in which he admitted that there were no good grounds to do so. Judge Makhubele had sent a letter to the JSC lobbying for Brand to recuse himself from the gross misconduct hearing against her.

The Tribunal is tasked with interrogating a complaint against Judge Makhubele’s conduct while she was Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa’s) chairperson of the Interim Board of Control.

GroundUp has been informed that retired Judge President Achmat Jappie, who headed the KwaZulu-Natal Division of the high court will take over from Brand. Jappie will hear the matter alongside retired Judge Seun Moshidi and attorney Noxolo Maduba-Silevu.

Elaine Zungu, an advocate and the Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, will lead the evidence against Judge Makhubele.

The date and location of the Tribunal is yet to be confirmed, according to a letter on 13 June from Kutlwano Moretlwe, secretary to the Judicial Service Commission sent to #UniteBehind, the activist organisation that lodged the complaint against Judge Makhubele.

The organisation was critical of Brand’s decision to withdraw at the time, calling it “deeply disturbing”.

#UniteBehind submitted a complaint to the JSC against Judge Makhubele in January 2019, accusing the judge of “gross misconduct” while Prasa chairperson, including allegations that she interfered in the Siyaya litigation and breach of the separation of powers principle.

In March 2020, a Judicial Conduct Committee recommended that #UniteBehind’s complaint against Judge Makhubele be referred to a Judicial Conduct Tribunal for investigation, after finding that the allegations against the judge were “very serious”, and that if they were proven, “a finding of gross misconduct would be made”.

In October 2020, Judge Makhubele appeared before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture (also known as the Zondo Commission), to defend her conduct while she was chairperson of PRASA. Judge Makhubele was suspended by President Cyril Ramaphosa later that month.

In April 2021, the Tribunal was established by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

Judge Makhubele could face impeachment if the tribunal makes a finding of gross misconduct against her, and if the JSC upholds this finding. Her impeachment would require a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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  • Yes this appears to be gross misconduct (the courts will decide!) and the speed with which the JSC reacted and the the speed with which the judge was suspended would have us believe that there is something very serious to answer to.
    And so why the tardiness in investigating, JSC recommending action, and the president suspending Hlophe? Okay, for some of those years he was being protected by Zuma, but not for the last five.

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