ATC141028: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on the Provisional Suspension of Aspirant Magistrate RM Malahlela, dated 28 October 2014:
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on
the Provisional Suspension of Aspirant M
dated 28 October 2014:
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional
Services, having considered the report on the provisional suspension
of Magistrate RM
, an Aspirant
, reports as follow
is an aspirant additional magistrate at the
She was appointed to
the lower court bench on 1 November 2004. To date her permanent
appointment could not be finalized due to poor performance, irregularities
in her work, absenteeism, refusal to execute lawful orders, major delays
in judgments, failure to finalize matters and poor utilization of court
A preliminary investigation
report in terms of regulation 26(3) of the Regulations for Judicial
Officers in the Lower Courts, No. R. 361 of 11 March 1994, recommended
be charged with four counts
of misconduct, but the Ethics Committee resolved due to the lapse of time
not to charge her with misconduct.
At its meeting held on 25
May 2009, the Ethics Committee considered an alleged strained relationship
between the magistrate and her Judicial Head of Office; allegations of
poor performance; alleged misconduct and prejudice. It resolved that a
delegation convene at
Court House to
discuss the issues and determine the way forward. Two visits were
scheduled with the magistrate, without any success. .
The Head of the National
Judicial Quality Assurance Office (Pretoria) indicated in an internal
memorandum dated 30 September 2010 that Mrs
was for considerable periods absent from work and in default to explain
her absence; she could not satisfy the Commission that she is a fit and
proper person to be appointed as a magistrate.
Medical reports indicated
that she suffers from Major Depressive Disorder and Panic Disorder. A
report dated 18 October 2011 recommended that she does not have the
capacity to carry out her duties of office in an efficient manner due to
The Ethics Committee
resolved on 1 December 2011 to refer the matter to the Commission's Appointments
Committee to make a recommendation to the Minister not to appoint the magistrate
on a permanent basis.
The Executive Committee of
the Commission, however, referred the matter back to the Ethics Committee
in order to consider whether the magistrate should not be charged with
misconduct and to direct a separate investigation in terms of Regulation
29 of the Regulations.
The Ethics Committee
resolved that a Judicial Quality Assurance Report on the judicial work of
the magistrate must be submitted for consideration. The report was
compiled by two Senior Magistrates and covered the period 2010 to August
The Report was then submitted
to the Magistrate on 18 April 2013 for her comments. She indicated that
she needed a week to submit her comments, but only responded on 28 June 2013.
The Ethics Committee recommended
that she be exposed to an additional six months of probation under the
guidance of an on-board mentor. Although the gist of the report by the
mentor was predominantly positive in nature, the mentor was not prepared
to make a recommendation. The mentor indicated that "it was difficult
to write a comprehensive report due to the fact that the magistrate was
during the period of extended probation absent for 39 days 31 days for
vacation leave and 8 days for sick leave; the magistrate was evaluated on
her work done in the reception court; the statistics she provided raises
many questions as to her productivity; she often arrive late at work; does
not attend in time to circulars/official correspondence which she must
sign; her dedication to her work is questionable; the traffic court roll
is not finalized on the allocated court day."
At its meeting held on 22
May 2013, the Ethics Committee resolved to conduct a preliminary
investigation in terms of Regulation 26(1) of the Regulations to obtain
evidence in order to determine whether there are any grounds for a charge
of misconduct against the magistrate. The investigation report recommended
be charged with misconduct.
A charge sheet comprising of 29 counts of
alleged misconduct was served on the Magistrate on 5 March 2014.
filed a Notice of Motion at the North Gauteng High Court citing the
Magistrates Commission and the Minister of Justice as the Respondents. She
applied for an order of the Court
to declare the Commission's decision to charge her with
misconduct to be wrongful and unlawful. The application is still to be
In a letter dated 4 March
2014, the Commission requested Mrs
show cause why the Commission should not recommend that she be
provisionally suspended from office in terms of section 13(3)(a) of the
Act, pending the outcome of an investigation into her fitness to hold the
office of magistrate. Having considered Mrs
response and having noted the fact the she has filed a Notice of Motion in
the High Court, the Magistrates Commission resolved to recommend that the
Minister provisionally suspends Mrs
from office in terms of section 13(3)(a) of the Act.
The Commission is of the
view that the existing evidence against Mrs
is of such a serious nature as to make it inappropriate for her to perform
the functions of a Magistrate whilst the misconduct hearing is pending. It
is inappropriate for a judicial officer, against whom so many civil
judgments were taken and handed down from the court house where she works
as a judicial officer, to still sit on the bench. Her conduct in both her
private and professional capacity reflects negatively on her integrity. The
Commission is of the view that existing evidence against Mrs
is of such a serious nature that it would
justify her removal from office, should she be found guilty of the
misconduct charges which are preferred against her.
The Committee feels
that the image of our courts and presiding officers is very important and
must be protected.
Having considered the Commissions report on the provisional suspension
from office of Mrs RM
and the Ministers
request, the Committee
that the National Assembly confirms the provisional suspension.
Report to be considered.
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