Charged for ‘inciting magistrates to strike’

2013-05-12 06:00

Two of the leaders of last month’s planned go-slow by magistrates have been charged with misconduct by the Magistrates’ Commission.

Nazeem Joemath, president of the Judicial Officers Association of SA (Joasa), and Annalene Larsen, the organisation’s secretary, both face charges related to inciting magistrates to strike and of bringing the judiciary into disrepute.

According to letters written by Magistrates’ Commission chairperson Frans Legodi, which have been leaked to City Press, the charges are based on statements sent to magistrates who are members of Joasa and on comments made in press statements.

The letter sent to Joemath quotes his call for Joasa members to participate in the strike and says he acted “in a manner which does not uphold and promote the good name, dignity and esteem of the office of magistrate and the administration of justice”.

In the statement, Joemath said Joasa was forced to embark on industrial action after a 5.5% increase was rejected.

Two other charges relate to a press statement in which Joemath said the go-slow had been implemented countrywide, dismissing “false press releases” by the department of justice, which said the action had been limited to East London and Kimberley.

“We are the victims and not the villains we are portrayed to be. We are aware of serious cases of threats and intimidation from chief and senior magistrates,” read the press statement.

Joemath is sticking to his guns, saying: “I don’t need permission from the Magistrates’ Commission to speak to my members.

“I stand by everything I’ve written and said.”

Although it is not known who laid the complaint against Joemath and Larsen, Joemath has described the charges as forming part of a “system of intimidation and fear, which is being sown among our members”.

Joemath said that Joasa was forging ahead with plans for a two-day stayaway from work later this month.

The association is demanding that the salaries of magistrates be placed on the same sliding scale as that of superior judges, with the salary of the chief justice being used as a reference point.

Magistrates’ salaries are increased on a yearly basis like those of other civil servants.

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