ATC101123: Report Provisional suspension from office of Magistrate I W O M Morake
Report of the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development on the provisional suspension from office of Magistrate I W O M Morake, dated 23 November 2010:
The Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development, having considered the report on the provisional suspension from office of a magistrate, Mr I W O M Morake, an additional magistrate at Lichtenburg,tabled by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development, in terms of the Magistrates Act, 1993 (Act no 90 of 1993), reports as follows:
1. Mr Morake, as a Magistrate and Judicial Head at Lichtenburg, has had several complaints lodged against him with the Magistrates Commission. The allegations were as follows:
1.1. Attorneys Ranamane Phungo Incorporated, acting on behalf of Moeder Moraine Tirano, alleged that Mr Morake instructed their client to vacate the property she was occupying without any application being placed before him. It is alleged that Mr Morake had called Ms Tirano to his office and had personally instructed her to vacate her premises.
1.2. The Provincial Head of the South African Police Detective Service, North West, requested the Commission to investigate a complaint made by one of its members against Mr Morake. The Investigating Officer, in a stock theft case, arrested a suspect in the Lichtenburg district and impounded the stolen livestock. The suspect was charged and appeared before the Lichtenburg Magistrates’ Court. The case was remanded for further investigation. The Investigating Officer alleged that a week prior to the remand date, Mr Morake phoned him and ordered him to appear before him. Mr Morke also threatened the Investigating Officer with arrest if he failed to appear. The Investigating Officer complied with the instruction and attended the meeting. The accused was also present at the meeting. Mr Morake asked the Investigating Officer how he could help the accused. The Investigating Officer replied that the matter was in court and that he could not help the accused. The Investigating Officer later reported that he found Mr Morake’s conduct unusual and threatening.
1.3. The Chef Magistrate of the North West Administrative Region received a complaint from Legal and Tax Services (Pty) Ltd, a legal expense insurance company, which alleged that Mr Morake agreed to assist one of their clients with a loan agreement. The matter was forwarded to the Chief Magistrate of the North West Administrative Region. The allegation was that their client had forwarded R950 to MrMorake to secure the loan, but, since no assistance was forthcoming, they requested to be refunded.
1.4. It is further alleged that Mr Morake interfered in a private matter to such an extent that the complainant had to approach the court for relief. It was alleged that Mr Morake contacted Mr Shohag, a businessman, and ordered him to come to Mr Morake’s office immediately. Mr Shohag informed Mr Morake that he could not make it and was threatened with arrest. Mr Shohag was advised not to attend and later that day was visited by three police officers. The police officers informed him that his employee had a problem with him and he had to go and see the magistrate about the issue. Mr Shohag and his two partners went as instructed. Mr Shohag’s employee was present at the meeting and the magistrate questioned Mr Shohag about the problem between him and the employee. Mr Shohag was instructed by Mr Morake to sign an agreement that 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.
1.5. On 13 July 2007, Mr Morake appeared in the Lichtenburg District Court on three charges of theft. The case stands postponed to 18 October 2010 for judgment.
1.6. It is further alleged that Mr Morake visited a lady at her workplace regarding a rental dispute she had with another person. Mr Morake ordered the lady to come to his office to discuss the matter. She acceded to his request and, with her husband, attended the meeting where the other party was also present. The matter involved the payment of arrears in respect of electricity to the amount of R1 173. Mr Morake would not hear the woman’s reason for not paying and ordered that the woman pay the outstanding amount to him rather than to the municipality. He would pay the other party. He threatened the lady with incarceration if she did not follow his instructions. The lady paid the money to Mr Morake, but, a few 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 from Mr Morake and was not aware that Mr Morake had received the money. Mr Morake no longer had the money and said that someone had taken it from his office.
2. 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 cause, in writing, why the decision should not be taken.
3. 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.
4. It would be furthermore 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 still sit on the Bench.
5. 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 against him.
The Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development, having considered the report on the provisional suspension from office of magistrate I W O M Morake, recommends that the National Council of Provinces confirms the provisional suspension from the office of Magistrate I W O M Morake.
Report to be considered
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