ATC101116: Report on Provisional suspension from office of Magistrate IWOM Morake
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the provisional suspension from office of Magistrate IWOM Morake, dated 16 November 2010:
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the report on the lifting of the provisional suspension of Magistrate IWOM Morake, a Magistrate at Lichtenburg, pending the outcome of an investigation into his fitness to hold office as a magistrate, reports as follows:
1) Mr Morake is a Magistrate and Judicial Head at Lichtenburg. Several complaints were lodged with the Magistrates Commission against Mr Morake. The allegations were as follows:
- Attorneys Ranamane Phungo Inc alleged that Mr Morake had personally called their client into his office and instructed her to vacate the property she was occupying. This instruction was given to her although there was no eviction application before the court; no eviction order had been made by the court; nor had she consented to vacate the property.
- The Provincial Head of the South African Police Detective Service, North West, requested that the Commission investigate a complaint made by one of its members against Mr Morake. The member was the Investigating Officer (IO) in a stock theft matter and had arrested a suspect in the case in Lichtenburg. The suspect was charged, appeared before the Lichtenburg Magistrate’s Court and the matter was remanded. The IO alleges that a week prior to the remand date he was contacted by Mr Morake and ordered to appear before him at his office. Mr Morake threatened to issue a warrant for his arrest if he failed to do so. The IO complied with the instruction and attended the meeting. The accused was also present at the meeting. Mr Morake asked the IO if he would assist the accused. The IO refused. He later stated that he found the conduct of Mr Morake unusual and threatening.
- A complaint was received from Legal and Tax Services (Pty) Ltd (a legal expense insurance company) through the Chief Magistrate of the North West Administrative Region. It is alleged that Legal and Tax Services had paid Mr Morake R950 to assist their client to secure a loan. Mr Morake failed to secure the loan. They requested that the payment be refunded.
- In another incident, it was alleged that Mr Morake contacted a businessman, Mr Shohag and ordered him to see Mr Morake at his office. Mr Shohag was threatened with arrest if he failed to attend the meeting. Mr Shohag initially ignored the instruction but was later visited by three police officers who informed him that his employee had a problem with him and he had to go and see Mr Morake about this issue. Subsequently Mr Shohag and his two partners went to see Mr Morake at his office as instructed. Mr Shohag’s employee was also present. Mr Morake forced Mr Shohag to sign an agreement that he (Mr Shohag) would conduct business with his employee. Mr Morake threatened Mr Shohag with deportation back to Bangladesh if he failed to follow the instructions. Mr Shohag later obtained an interdict against Mr Morake and reported the incident to the SAPS Organised Crime Unit.
2) On 13 July 2007, Mr Morake appeared in the Lichtenburg District Court on three charges of theft. The matter was postponed to 18 October 2010 for judgment.
3) Mr Morake became involved in a dispute involving the payment of arrears in respect of electricity in the amount of R 1 173. He order a woman involved in the matter to come to his office with her husband. The other party was also present during the meeting. Mr Morake insisted that the woman pay the outstanding amount to him personally rather than to the municipality. He threatened to lock her in jail if she did not comply with his instructions. A few days later she paid him the money on the understanding that he would pay the money to the other party in the dispute. Weeks later she was summoned to the Small Claims Court for payment of the amount of R1 173. The other party had not received the money. When she followed up with Mr Morake he made various excuses and finally stated that somebody had taken the money from his office.
4) On 10 February 2010, the Magistrates Commission informed Mr Morake in writing that the Commission 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 why the decision should not be taken.
5) On 26 August 2010, the Commission, having considered Mr Morake’s response received on 25 February 2010, resolved to advise the Minster to again provisionally suspend Mr Morake from office in terms of section 13(3)(a) of the Act. The Commission is of the view that the existing evidence against Mr Morake 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 in charges of theft, emanating from complaints within the district he is serving, to sit on the Bench.
6) The Commission holds the view that the existing evidence against Mr Morake is of such a serious nature that it would justify his removal from office should he be found guilty of the misconduct charges preferred against him.
Having considered the Report on the provisional suspension of Magistrate IWOM Morake, the Committee recommends that the National Assembly confirm the provisional suspension.
Report to be considered.
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