High Court judge accused of 'impeachable conduct'

2019-01-25 16:01
Judge Tintswalo Annah Nana Makhubele has been accused of violating the Judicial Code of Conduct by #UniteBehind. (Photo from Judges Matter video, GroundUp)

Judge Tintswalo Annah Nana Makhubele has been accused of violating the Judicial Code of Conduct by #UniteBehind. (Photo from Judges Matter video, GroundUp)

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Commuter activist group #UniteBehind has lodged a complaint against Gauteng High Court Judge Tintswalo Annah Nana Makhubele, accusing her of breaching the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The group is accusing her of breaching the code's "separation of powers" clauses for having been chairperson of the interim board of the Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (Prasa) while serving as a Gauteng High Court judge, GroundUp reports.

The complaint, filed with the Judicial Conduct Committee of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was signed by #UniteBehind secretariat member Zukiswa Fokazi.

It is divided into two parts: One criticises her for the two positions and the other criticises her conduct at Prasa, which GroundUp reported on last year.

According to the complaint, Makhubele was recommended by the JSC for appointment as a judge of the Gauteng High Court on October 4, 2017.

On October 17, she was appointed Prasa chairperson. On November, 2, former president Jacob Zuma appointed Makhubele as a judge, with a start date of January 1, 2018.

Read: Zuma appoints 15 High Court judges

After this announcement, #UniteBehind raised concerns with the JSC about the conflict of interest the two positions would pose and questioned the rationality of appointing her to the position of chairperson after her recommendation for the High Court.

Although Makhubele asked for a High Court start date of April 1 - as revealed in emails obtained and cited by #UniteBehind in its affidavit - her High Court position was effective from January 1, 2018, according to the activist group. Her name officially appeared on the court roll on February 5, 2018.

Makhubele continued in her position at Prasa until March 16, 2018.

During her time as chairperson, Makhubele was also accused of disrupting litigation procedures inside Prasa.

In November 2018, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria found that Makhubele had instructed Prasa's lawyers not to defend the company against legal action that resulted in R56m being seized from Prasa (the money eventually had to be returned to Prasa).

Read more: ‘Conflicted’ judge refuses to leave Prasa

In its scathing judgment, the court wrote that Makhubele "ought not to undertake any judicial duties until she clears her name of the allegations against her".

And in February 2018, the Sunday Times accused Makhubele of pushing for a R500m investment into VBS bank "without any agreement being signed".

#UniteBehind is calling for the impeachment of Makhubele on the grounds that she violated the "independence of the judiciary" and for her conduct at Prasa.

The JSC acknowledged receipt of the complaint on January 21, 2019 and forwarded it to the Judicial Conduct Committee.

Nathi Mncube, spokesperson for the judiciary, told GroundUp that Makhubele could not comment on the matter until she has been invited to do so by the Judicial Conduct Committee when it processes the complaint.

Read more on:    prasa  |  courts
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