Judge finally begins testifying before tribunal

Henry

By Daniel Steyn, GroundUp

On Thursday, Judge Nana Makhubele began to give her evidence during a hearing about her alleged misconduct. It comes more than six months after she was initially scheduled to do so.

The Judicial Conduct Committee set up a tribunal into Makhubele’s behavior in 2021, after the pressure group #UniteBehind had already lodged a complaint against her in 2019.

The hearing is related to her decision to remain as chairman of the Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa), despite the fact that she was appointed as a judge in the Pretoria High Court. #UniteBehind argues this was a breach of the judicial code of conduct.

In addition, Makhubele was named at the then commission after state capture after she apparently used her influence at Prasa to promote the interests of the company Siyaya, which is also involved in alleged corruption.

The trial will take place this week at the Southern Sun hotel in Rosebank.

Should the tribunal find Makhubele guilty, she could be prosecuted.

Makhubele was supposed to start testifying in June last year, but it was postponed twice due to a dispute over her legal fees. The hearing was to resume on Monday, but there was another delay because her lawyer was not available.

She indicated on Wednesday that she wanted to submit a court application to the High Court to prohibit the tribunal from continuing, but the tribunal continued anyway.

Makhubele represented herself on Thursday and gave evidence about the allegations that she was already a judge when she resigned as chairman of the board of Prasa.

Makhubele showed the tribunal written correspondence between Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and #UniteBehind from January 2018. #UniteBehind wrote to Mlambo asking why Makhubele appeared on the court roll for that month when she was still chairing Prasa’s board. Mlambo responded and said Makhubele would only continue her duties as a judge in April 2018.

Mlambo told the tribunal in February last year that Makhubele did not disclose her chairmanship of the Prasa board at the time of her appointment and that he was only made aware of Makhubele’s plans to postpone her appointment in January 2018.

He was apparently caught off guard when she did not report for duty that month.

Makhubele disputes this and argued on Thursday that she informed him of her plans in December 2017. Therefore, Makhubele argues, she had no intention of serving as a judge while she was also Prasa’s board chairman.

While giving her evidence, Makhubele told the tribunal several times that she was unprepared and that she was having trouble locating some of the documentary evidence she wanted to refer to.

“You didn’t give me enough time to prepare,” she said.

Makhubele also took the opportunity on Thursday to challenge the “narrative” about her.

“I was made out to be many different things,” she told the tribunal. “Arrogant, employing tactics to delay the trial. It is important because it questions my integrity as a person, as a judge.”

She claimed it was not entirely her fault that the tribunal had taken four years to reach this point.

Makhubele will continue to give her evidence on Friday.

  • This post is originally on GroundUp published and is used with permission on RNews.