Provisional Suspension of Magistrates from Office: consideration of Ministerial Reports

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Justice and Correctional Services

17 October 2006
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JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
18 October 2006
PROVISIONAL SUSPENSION OF MAGISTRATES FROM OFFICE: CONSIDERATION OF MINISTERIAL REPORTS

Chairperson:
Ms F I Chohan-Khota (ANC)

Relevant Document
:
Committee Report on the Provisional Suspension of Magistrate Mr I X Masimini (Appendix 1)
Committee Report on the Provisional Suspension of Magistrate M Matereke (Appendix 2)

SUMMARY
This meeting was closed to the public. Please refer to the two committee reports emerging from this meeting, containing the recommendations of the Committee.


APPENDIX 1
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the Provisional Suspension from Office of Magistrate Mr I X Masimini, dated 19 October 2006:

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the report on the provisional suspension from office of magistrate IX Masimini, tabled by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development in terms of section 13 (3) (a) of the Magistrates Act, 1993 (Act 90 of 1993) reports as follows:

1) The Portfolio Committee notes that the Minister for Justice provisionally suspended Mr. IX Masimini from office on 17 August 2006 in terms of section 13(3)(a) of the Magistrates Act,
1993, and the Minister’s report was tabled in Parliament on the 21 August 2006.

2) The Portfolio Committee was advised that Mr. Masimini was on a previous occasion found guilty of misconduct, on three (3) counts in that he had used ‘‘foul and/or injudicious language in
court’’

3) In terms of regulation 26(17)(a)(iv) of the Regulations for Judicial Officers in Lower Courts 1994, imposition of a sanction was postponed by the presiding officer for a period of 12 months.
Mr. IX Masimini was ordered to subject himself inter-alia for psychological counseling and therapy sessions.

4) Three (3) days after he was so enjoined Mr. Masimini allegedly assaulted a woman at a tavern causing an open wound on her chin.

5) Four (4) months later Mr. IX Masimini appeared in court on a charge of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm.

6) A misconduct inquiry was set down for hearing by the Magistrates Commission for the period between 22-24 August 2006.

7) At its meeting of the 20 July 2006, the Magistrates Commission resolved as follows: ‘‘. . . in those instances where a misconduct inquiry is instituted following criminal charges against a magistrate, the misconduct inquiry not be proceeded with pending the outcome of the criminal case. The process of the inquiry is started by serving of the charge sheet. The inquiry should thereafter be postponed indefinitely pending the outcome of the criminal case.’’

8) The misconduct inquiry accordingly was postponed sine die.

9) The Committee is of the view that this resolution is extremely unfortunate, and urges the Magistrates Commission to review its decision at the next available occasion.

10) Given the Magistrates Commission’s resolution and given the fact that Mr. IX Masimini would receive his full salary while on suspension, the Committee is of the view that the suspension of Mr. IX Masimini on full pay would be inappropriate and would not promote the good standing of the Magistracy. The suspension of the magistrate on full pay would not further contribute to the efficacy of the court where he is stationed. The Committee suggests that the magistrate be utilized in an administrative capacity at the court he is stationed.

The Committee accordingly recommends that House not confirm the provisional suspension of Magistrate IX Masimini.

Report to be considered.


APPENDIX 2
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the Provisional Suspension from Office of Magistrate Mr M Matereke, dated 19 October 2006

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the report on the provisional suspension from office of magistrate M Matereke, tabled by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development in terms of section 13(3)(a) of the Magistrates Act, 1993 (Act 90 of 1993) reports as follows:

1. The Portfolio Committee noted from the report that Mr. Matereke was previously suspended from office in respect of different criminal allegations and due to the fact that those charges were withdrawn, and the Magistrates Commission has decided not to pursue misconduct proceedings the magistrate’s suspension ‘‘lapsed’’. During this time, Mr. Matereke has been away from office on full pay.

2. The Minister for Justice provisionally suspended Mr. Matereke on the recommendation of the Magistrates Commission on the 17 August 2006, and the Minister’s report was tabled in
Parliament on the 21 August 2006.

3. Mr. Matereke was convicted of murder and assault on 4 July 2006, having first appeared in the Johannesburg Regional Court on 18 February 2003 i.e. 3 years, one month and 5 days before the Magistrates Commission charged him with misconduct.

4. The Committee finds it completely unacceptable that there was this inordinate delay, and urges the Commission to finalise its proceedings and if possible to consider Mr. Matereke’s immediate removal from office, particularly given that he is currently in prison having been inter-alia found guilty of murder.

5. The Committee further urges the Magistrates Commission to review its recent decision to not proceed with misconduct hearings pending the outcome of criminal cases against magistrates.

6. Accordingly the Committee recommends that the House resolve to confirm the provisional suspension of Mr M Matereke.

Report to be considered.

 

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