ATC091110: Report on Upliftment of the Provisional Suspension from Office of Magistrate A Bacharam

Justice and Correctional Services

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the upliftment of the provisional suspension from office of Magistrate A Bacharam, dated 10 November 2009:


The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the report on the upliftment of provisional suspension from office of Magistrate A Bacharam, tabled by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development in terms of section 13(3)(b) of the Magistrates Act, 1993 (Act no 90 of 1993) on 17 September 2009, reports as follows:


1.                   The Committee notes from the report tabled by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development that the Magistrates Commission resolved on 7 March 2008 to recommend that Ms Bacharam be provisionally suspended from office in terms of section 13(3)(a) of the Magistrates Act, 1993. The Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development provisionally suspended Ms Bacharam from office on 16 March 2008.


2.                   Ms Bacharam was criminally charged for defeating or obstructing the Administration of Justice.


3.                   The Magistrates Commission set down a misconduct inquiry for 30 May 2008. Ms Bacharam’s representative requested that the inquiry be postponed pending the finalisation of the criminal case against her.


4.                   In terms of section 13(3)(c) of the Magistrates Act, 1993, Parliament must, as soon as is reasonably possible, pass a resolution as to whether or not the provisional suspension of a magistrate is confirmed: On 20 November 2008 and 27 November 2008, the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces respectively resolved to confirm Ms Bacharam’s provisional suspension from the office of Magistrate.


5.                   In terms of section 13(3)(f) of the Magistrates Act, 1993, the Magistrate’s Commission is required to report to Parliament on its progress in respect of its inquiry every three months. The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development tabled the necessary progress reports on 10 March 2009 and on 7 August 2009.


6.                   On 13 February 2009, Ms Bacharam was acquitted by the Regional Magistrate’s Court in Port Elizabeth.


7.                   After studying a transcription of the court record, the Magistrates Commission believed that it would not be able to successfully prove, on a balance of probabilities, misconduct on the part of Ms Bacharam. The Commission decided, on 25 August 2009, not to proceed with the disciplinary inquiry. On the Commission’s recommendation, the Minister uplifted the provisional suspension on 16 September 2009.


8.                   The Committee, after considering the report before it, and meeting with representatives of the Magistrates Commission, agrees with the Minister’s decision to uplift the suspension.


Report to be considered.



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