JSC: Chief Justice to decide when to meet over Judge Motata's fate following judicial tribunal report

 Judge Nkola Motata (File, Netwerk24)
Judge Nkola Motata (File, Netwerk24)

Following the judicial tribunal ruling that the conduct of retired Judge Nkola Motata at the scene of a car crash in 2007 was racist and lacked integrity, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) will now meet to consider the report and its recommendations. 

The tribunal's report, dated on April 12, found that the remarks Judge Motata made after he drunkenly crashed his car into a wall at a house in Johannesburg in 2007 were racist and thus impinged on and were prejudicial to the impartiality and dignity of the courts.

"Similarly the lack of integrity in the manner in which Judge Motata allowed his defence to be conducted at his trial, in our view is incompatible with or unbecoming of the holding of judicial office," the report read. 

READ: Retired Judge Motata was 'racist' and 'lacked integrity' - judicial tribunal finds

The tribunal recommended to the JSC that Motata be removed from office, in line with section 177 (1)(a) of the Constitution, which deals with the conduct of judges.

The commission referred the case to the tribunal after the judicial conduct committee indicated it would investigate complaints of gross misconduct which had been filed against the judge. 

JSC spokesperson CP Fourie said the commission would now meet on a date and time determined by the Chief Justice to consider the report and then decide whether it will follow the recommendation of the tribunal or not.

'No boer is going to undermine me'

According to the report, Motata was driving his car on Gleneagles Road, Hurlingham, in Johannesburg, around midnight on January 17, 2007, when he tried to execute a U-turn and ended up reversing his vehicle through the wall of a property. 

The property owner testified during Motata's trial in the North Gauteng High Court that the judge uttered racial slurs, profanities and used language of a derogatory nature. 

The judge previously admitted to making remarks to the owner of the house including: "No boer is going to undermine me... this used to be a white man's land, even if they have more land... South Africa belongs to us. We are ruling South Africa". 

The report states that the trial court found that the judge also uttered the following words at the scene of the incident: 

Motata: "Yes, but you know all of you, let me tell you most of us this is our world, it is not the world of the boers. Even if they can have big bodies, South Africa is ours."

Witness 1: "But sir, the problems is you drove into his wall."

Motata: "Even if I can drive into it I will pay it. It is not a problem that I can pay for the wall but he must not criticise me. There is no boer who will criticise me, (indistinct) what he thinks."

Witness 1: "But Mr you of the law person." 

Motata: "Yes, I am the man of the law, I am saying if I knocked his wall... (Intervenes).

Witness 1: "Do you know the law of.... (Intervenes).

Motata: "Yes I know the law. Let me go to the law. I do not care about him. Yes he must not look at me as a black man. Let me go before the law. That is how much I owe him for the wall which I broke down." 

Witness 1: "But then it is not good to insult him."

Motata: "F**k him, f**k him, he must not insult me, I say f**k him. Anybody who insults me, I say f**k you."

Defence 'inconsistent with the ethics of a judicial officer'

The tribunal also looked into a complaint on how Motata advanced his defence during the criminal trial.

During his trial, Motata's legal team contended that the judge would testify that he was not under the influence of alcohol while driving his car and that the property owner was the one who was racist towards him. 

Motata claimed that he did not consider himself to be drunk at the time of the accident as he only had two glasses of wine that evening. 

According to Motata, he was provoked and angered by the property owner who is alleged to have called him a drunken k****r.  The property owner is also alleged to have taken his car keys from him. 

The tribunal noted that Motata made these allegations, yet he also insisted that the comments he made were not made to the homeowner and that he was speaking to the police officers on scene in Setswana.  

The tribunal report further states that the way in which Motata led his defence during the criminal trial was inconsistent with the ethics of a judicial officer and was therefore tantamount to gross misconduct.

Motata was found guilty in 2009 by the High Court in Pretoria of drunk driving and fined R20 000. 

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