Committee backtracks on decision to not suspend 'woman magistrate'

2017-03-08 14:18
Magistrates court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Magistrates court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town – Parliament's justice and correctional services committee has backtracked on its decision to not suspend the president of the regional court in the North West.

The ANC members in the committee in February unanimously decided against suspending Magistrate Seka Monaledi when the Magistrates' Commission presented its report.

In the initial meeting, the ANC raised concerns "because too many women are being suspended".

There were also questions raised about juniors investigating the senior Monaledi, who was reported to the Hawks by the commission for fraud.

This related to allegedly claiming thousands of rands for travel expenses for work purposes and to attend meetings – a total of R953 838.56, over three years.

The North West Regional Court President was provisionally suspended by Justice Minister Michael Masutha in November 2016.

Integrity must be protected

Justifying its decision, the committee members said the commission's Hans Meijer had come to the meeting by himself with no other officials from the commission present.

On Wednesday, committee chairperson Mathole Motshekga said the demon of racism and sexism was still alive in the country.

He said the committee had confidence in the commission.

He said the integrity of the commission must be protected and added that the committee did not want to dent the image of the judiciary.

He had been convinced by the minister to review the decision made by the committee to not suspend Monaledi, Motshekga said.

But while the committee decided to accept the report, some of the ANC MPs seemed torn.

'We are not satisfied'

ANC MP Loyiso Mpulwana again questioned who had accused Monaledi of fraud, and suggested that junior magistrates might have an axe to grind with her.

ANC MP Makgathatso Pilane-Majake said Monaledi should be suspended, even though the information put to the committee was not sufficient.

Pilane-Majake said she was worried about women coming in through one door, and leaving through the other.

"Let's support the report, but quite clearly we are not satisfied," she said.

The Democratic Alliance's Werner Horn said the ANC had overstepped its authority in the last meeting and did not fulfil its oversight role.

He also raised concerns that Motshekga had a conversation outside the committee with the ministry.

Absenteeism

Chairperson of the commission's ethics committee Advocate Cassim Moosa said the decision to suspend the regional president was not taken lightly.

"I can...assure you that this matter was dealt with extremely sensitively, as she is a member of the Magistrates' Commission."

It was unfortunate that Monaledi was a woman, he said, and this was not something that had been considered in the investigation.

Other allegations include: 
 - Monaledi was absent from her office for an average of 71.49% of the time from 2013 to October 2017;
 - It could not be confirmed that Monaledi was in fact in her office for the remaining 28.51% of the time;
 - Monaledi does not render any court work in the regional court in the area of jurisdiction.
The report to suspend Monaledi was adopted on Wednesday.

Read more on:    seka monaledi  |  cape town  |  politics  |  gender equality  |  law

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