ATC101116: Report on Provisional suspension from office of Magistrate L Skrenya
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the provisional suspension from office of Magistrate L Skrenya, dated 16 November 2010:
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the report on the provisional suspension of Magistrate L Skrenya, a Magistrate at Cala, pending the outcome of an investigation into his fitness to hold office as a magistrate, reports as follows:
1) Mr Skrenya is a Magistrate and Judicial Head at Cala. On 5 August 2009 the Director of Public Prosecutions: Transkei directed that Mr Skrenya be prosecuted on a charge of fraud.
2) On 18 September 2009, Mr Skrenya appeared in the Cala District Court. The criminal case was postponed on various occasions and was remanded to 21 and 22 September 2010 for trial. The criminal charge flow from misrepresentations that Mr Skrenya made to his sub-cluster head, Mr Mthimkulu: On 24 April, Mr Skrenya claimed he used his private vehicle on an official trip from Cala to Dordrecht and submitted a claim for a transport allowance but, in fact, he used a government vehicle. He was, therefore, not entitled to submit any claim for travelling allowance.
3) A preliminary investigation conducted into other complaints filed against Mr Skrenya found prima facie evidence that, on 12 May 2009, he irregularly refused to adhere to a request by the Prosecutor to withdraw a criminal charge against an accused before a plea was tendered, meru moto postponed the case to 30 June 2009 and ordered that the accused be kept in custody. This decision was later set aside by the High Court on special review. His conduct resulted in the Minster of Justice and Constitutional Development being sued for damages. It is further alleged that Mr Skrenya held a criminal court which was not properly constituted and the he postponed various criminal cases in chambers in the absence of the prosecutor.
4) On 26 October 2009, the Commission informed Mr Skrenya that it was contemplating recommending that he be provisionally suspended from office pending the outcome of an investigation into his fitness to hold office. He was requested to show cause why the decision should not be taken. In his response, he indicated that there was no need to provisionally suspend him as there was no possibility of him interfering with the criminal and misconduct investigations. He further indicated that he never at any stage had the intention to defraud the State of any money. He was of the view that the complaints were levelled against him because his sub-cluster head “is pregnant with hatred towards him”.
5) On 26 August 2010, the Commission, having considered Mr Skrenya’s response, resolved to advise the Minister to provisionally suspend him from office in terms of section 13(3)(a) of the Act.
6) The Commission is of the view that the alleged misconduct against Mr Skrenya is of such a serious nature as to make it inappropriate for him to perform the functions of a magistrate while the allegations are being investigated. It would be inappropriate for a judicial officer, appearing as an accused before a court of law on a charge of fraud to still sit on the Bench.
7) The Committee expressed its dissatisfaction at the amount of time taken by the Commission to finalise the matter.
Having considered the Report on the provisional suspension of Magistrate L Skrenya, the Committee recommends that the National Assembly confirm the provisional suspension.
Report to be considered.
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