ATC141016: Report of the Select Committee on Security and Justice on the Suspension from Office of Magistrate M T Masinga, dated 16 October 2014

NCOP Security and Justice

Report of the Select Committee on Security and Justice on the Suspension from Office of Magistrate M T Masinga , dated 16 October 2014

1. Introduction

1.1. The Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development, having considered evidence relating to the report on the suspension from office of Magistrate Mr M T Masinga , an additional Magistrate at Emlazi , KwaZulu-Natal, 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), reports as follows:

1.2. The Select Committee heard evidence from representatives of the Magistrates Commission concerning the matter of the provisional suspension from office of Magistrate Mr M T Masinga on 17 September 2014.

2. Background

2.1. The Chief Magistrate, Durban, in a letter dated 2 April 2009 reported that Mr Masinga on 19 March 2009 appeared in the Durban Magistrates Court on a charge of contravening section 17 (a), read with section 7 of the Domestic Violence Act (Act No 116 of 1998). The charge alleged that he assaulted his wife with a blunt axe, that he kicked her, hit her with open hands and threatened to kill her. He also assaulted his daughters.

2.2. The court remanded the criminal proceedings to 14 April 2009. The Court granted Mr Masinga bail of R1000.00. The criminal case was then transferred to the Regional Court Durban, where Mr Masinga appeared on additional charges of attempted murder and two counts of assault.

2.3. On 14 July 2009, the Ethics Committee of the Magistrates Commission informed Mr Masinga in writing that the Commission was considering recommending his provisional suspension from office, pending the outcome of an investigation into his fitness to hold office. The Magistrates Commission requested he show cause, in writing, why they should not take such a decision.

2.4. At its meeting held on 26 November 2009, the Commission considered the matter and recommended Mr Masinga’s provisional suspension from office in terms of section 13(3) (a) of the Magistrates Act, Act No 90 of 1993 (the Act).

2.5. On 8 February 2010, the Commission charged Mr Masinga with three counts of misconduct. The Commission served a notice on Mr Masinga in terms of section 13(3 )( e) of the Act containing the allegations against him.

2.6. The National Council of Provinces on 4 June 2010 confirmed the provisional suspension of Mr Masinga from the office of Magistrate pending the outcome of the investigation and misconduct inquiry.

2.7. The misconduct inquiry commenced on 26 August 2010. Various requests for postponement by the defence caused a serious delay in the finalization of the misconduct inquiry against Mr Masinga . Mr Masinga raised various points in limine .

2.8. The Regional Court Durban convicted Mr Masinga on a charge of attempted murder on 23 May 2011.

2.9. The National Council of Provinces on 24 November 2011 confirmed the withholding of remuneration of Mr Masinga .

2.10. On 16 January 2012, the Regional Court Durban sentenced Mr Masinga to ten years imprisonment. Mr Masinga appealed against his conviction and sentence.

2.11. The Pietermaritzburg High Court on 28 March 2013 ordered the appeal to be adjourned sine die and granted Mr Masinga leave to bring the matter under review. He had to file review proceedings by no later than 20 April 2013.

2.12. On 8 November 2013, the Commission placed the evidence on record before the Presiding Officer. The Presiding Officer postponed the hearing to 12 December 2013 for both parties to address him on the merits.

2.13. The Presiding Officer on 28 February 2014 found Mr Masinga guilty on two of the three charges of misconduct. On 22 April 2014 the Presiding Officer recommended in terms of regulation 26(17)(b) of the Regulations for Judicial Officers in the Lower Courts, 1994 (the Regulations) that Mr Masinga be removed from office as contemplated in section 13(4) of the Act.

2.14. The Registrar of the High Court advised the Commission on 13 June 2014 that the review proceedings were, at the request of Mr Masinga’s attorney, removed from the roll on 22 May 2014, as he had not filed a Replying Affidavit.

2.15. The Director of Public Prosecutions, KwaZulu-Natal, on 22 May 2014 filed a Notice of Bar in the event of Mr Masinga not filing his Replying Affidavit by 9 June 2014. The Commission awaits an update on this matter.

2.16. Mr Masinga was, in terms of regulation 26(20) of the Regulations, given the opportunity to lodge written representations with the Commission within 21 working days after the findings of the Presiding Officer. Although out of time, Mr Masinga lodged his representations with the Commission in terms of regulation 26(20) of the Regulations on 2 July 2014.

2.17. Having considered Mr Masinga's representations in terms of regulation 26(21) of the Regulations, the Presiding Officer indicated that he had no additional reasons for his recommendation to submit to the Commission.

2.18. At its meeting held on 11 July 2014, the Magistrates Commission considered the documents as required by the Regulations for Judicial Officers in the Lower Courts and recommended to the Minister that Mr Masinga be suspended and removed from office on the grounds of misconduct in terms of section 13(4)(a)(i) of the Act.

2.19. The Commission is of the view that Mr Masinga's conduct was so serious that it justified his removal from office. The Commission noted Mr Masinga's apparent failure to prosecute his appeal against his criminal conviction of attempted murder might result in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions applying to cancel Mr Masinga's bail. This would result in his incarceration.

2.20. Mr Masinga is currently provisionally suspended from office without remuneration.

3. Committee recommendation

3.1. The Select Committee on Security and Justice having considered the Commission’s report on the suspension from office of Magistrate M T Masinga , recommends that the National Council of Provinces confirm Mr Masinga’s suspension and removal from office.

Report to be considered.


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