Consideration of Reports and Recommendation of Magistrates’ Commission

NCOP Security and Justice

06 November 2005
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Meeting report

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SECURITY AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
07 NOVEMBER 2005
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATES’ COMMISSION

CHAIRPERSON: Mr K Mokoena (ANC)

Documents handed out:

None

SUMMARY
The Committee considered the report of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and recommendation to suspend Magistrates Khumalo and Mathe. The Committee placed consideration of Magistrate Suliman on hold pending the resolution of issues raised by him with the Department. The Department briefed the Committee on the status of the criminal case against Magistrate Suliman, as well as other recent claims asserted against the magistrate. The Committee supported the Department’s recommendation and proposed the suspension of Magistrates Khumalo and Mathe with full pay until such time as the Magistrates Commission decided otherwise with respect to pay.

MINUTES
The Chairperson summarised the issue put before the Committee. Specifically, the Committee was to consider the Department’s recommendation that it suspend Magistrates Khumalo and Mathe. The question of suspension of Magistrate Suliman was to be postponed pending the resolution of certain other issues within the Department. The Committee had previously declined to follow the recommendation for suspension because the Department had not followed the proper procedures. However, the Department had corrected this and the suspensions were again before the Committee.

The Department was represented by Mr Labuschagne and Dr Swazi. Dr Swazi confirmed that the Department recommended that the Committee deal only with the suspensions of the two previously identified judges.

Mr M Mzizi (IFP) commented that he was disturbed by the pending case against Magistrate Suliman, which had been scheduled for trial on 6 October 2005. He expressed interest in determining the status of that case. The Chairperson respectfully suggested that Mr Mzizi place his question on hold while the Department continued to work on issues relating to that magistrate, and that the Committee let the process continue with respect to the two magistrates only.

Mr J Le Roux (DA) stated his opinion that the magistrates both be suspended.

Mr A Moseki (ANC) pointed out that it seemed, especially in the case of Magistrate Mathe, that the magistrates might be using delay tactics with respect to the cases against them. He stated his agreement in principle with the suspension of the magistrates.

Mr Mzizi concurred that the two magistrates should be suspended. However, he added that the Committee know first whether these magistrates would be suspended with or without pay. He stated that a suspension without pay would discourage delay tactics, such as in the case of Magistrate Mathe.

Mr Labuschagne stated that, with respect to the Mathe case, the criminal case had been postponed from 14 November to 18 November 2005. The Magistrates Commission (MC) would determine whether the suspensions would be with or without pay, once the decision had been made by Parliament as to whether they should be suspended. The MC could decide to suspend the magistrates without pay at a later date, but had not done so at this time.

Mr D Worth (DA) proposed that the two magistrates be suspended with full pay until such time as the MC decided otherwise. Ms F Nyanda (ANC) seconded the motion.

The Chairperson concurred with the proposal. He stated that it was also the Committee’s recommendation that the Department expedite resolution of the outstanding issues. Without reading the report in full, the Chairperson proposed that he sign the report on the Committee’s behalf since it contained the Committee members’ comments.

Mr Labuschagne then briefed the Committee on the issues surrounding Magistrate Suliman. The trial in the case against him had been partially heard and would continue on until 11 November 2005. The question had been raised as to whether Magistrate Suliman should be transferred to another office pending the outcome of the trial. It had been raised with the Chief Magistrate of Durban who was of the opinion that the allegations against Mr Suliman were widely known and that to transfer him to another office would give a negative impression regarding the threat to the women in that office. Therefore, it had been decided that Magistrate Suliman should not be moved.

Mr Labuschagne described other recent allegations against Magistrate Suliman. First, a woman had appeared before Magistrate Suliman in a Section 65 debt-related proceeding and he had asked her very intimate questions. She had filed police charges against Magistrate Suliman and had then withdrawn them. The Department was still attempting to get information regarding this situation. In addition, there was another charge made by a woman colleague of Magistrate Suliman who had resigned. She had given a sworn statement regarding her charge against him. The Department was following up to obtain information regarding this charge.

Mr Mzizi commented that the latest incidents were likely to go to court. He stated that the Committee was dealing with a monster, and that either he should be requested to recuse himself, resign or face embarrassment.

The Chairperson submitted that the Committee should allow the process to continue and would wait for a briefing from the Department in the next meeting relating to Magistrate Suliman. Finally, the Chairperson called for final mandates by the next Wednesday from the provinces regarding the Repeal of the Black Administration Act. He appreciatively acknowledged receipt from KwaZulu-Natal of its final mandate.

The meeting was adjourned.


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