Magistrate’s case settled

2009-08-14 00:00

JUDGE Sharmaine Balton granted an order in the high court yesterday confirming a settlement agreement, which effectively ends a legal dispute between Pietermaritzburg magistrate Ashin Singh and Justice authorities that has spanned almost a decade.

In terms of the order, Singh was effectively given leave to withdraw his civil damages claim against the Justice and Constitutional Development minister, with each party agreeing to pay its own costs, but on stringent conditions that effectively ban Singh from repeating or making fresh allegations against officials whose names are listed in the settlement agreement.

The agreement provides that if Singh reneges on the agreement, he can be held liable for the state’s costs.

In exchange for Singh’s “irrevocable undertaking” and withdrawal of his application for leave to appeal, the state also agreed to waive a recent punitive cost order granted against Singh by Jacob Zuma trial Judge Chris Nicholson. That case concerned an application by Singh to intervene in the Zuma case as an amicus curiae or friend of the court.

Nicholson ruled in that matter that Singh was motivated by ulterior motives and granted a request by the state for punitive damages.

Singh told The Witness that yesterday’s settlement agreement will effectively save him legal costs estimated to be about R1,2 million.

The court order states that Singh “unequivocally and irrevocably withdraws all allegations of misconduct and/or unlawful activities” that have been made by him against 19 state officials and members of the former Scorpions whose names are listed.

The list includes the names of the current acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Mokotedi Mpshe, his predecessor, Vusi Pikoli, former Zuma prosecutor, advocate Billy Downer SC, Chris MacAdam (former head of the investigative directorate, organised crime in KZN), former NDPP Bulelani Ngcuka, and Percy Sonn.

The order states that Singh “irrevocably undertakes” not to repeat “in any form or medium any of the allegations previously made by him” against the listed officials, and that he will not make any fresh allegations of misconduct against them.

Singh has also undertaken not to reopen or re-institute any civil or criminal proceedings against the state or any of its officials with regard to matters that are the subject of this case.

Singh’s legal battle with the Scorpions and justice officials arises from his criminal prosecution on charges of defeating the ends of justice in 2000 to 2003, which ended when Singh was granted a permanent stay of prosecution.

He thereafter launched a number of legal actions, including civil proceedings for damages of R2,8 million from the Justice minister.

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