LETTER: Worrying pattern of judges in trouble

Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela. Picture: Screengrab/TV

Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela. Picture: Screengrab/TV

Published Apr 3, 2024


The South African judiciary has been an unshakeable pillar of strength for our democracy.

When the whole country was falling apart, we could always trust the judiciary to deliver fair and equitable justice without fear or favour.

The judges were of impeccable character, and beyond reproach and stood head and shoulders above all of us.

But, recently, several judges have got into trouble, like naughty schoolboys, and brought the judiciary into disrepute.

First in the firing line was retired Judge Nkola Motata who was found guilty of gross misconduct for a drunken driving offence committed in 2009.

Next was none other than Judge President John Hlophe who was found guilty of trying to influence two Constitutional Court judges to violate their oath of office in the Zuma corruption case.

The Judicial Services Commission recommended that Parliament remove the two delinquent judges from office.

Subsequently, the National Assembly adopted the commission’s recommendations and voted, by an overwhelming majority, to dispense with the services of Motata and Hlophe.

Finally, the matter went to President Cyril Ramaphosa who ratified the National Assembly decision and gave both the judges the boot.

Just after this matter was finally put to bed, another judge got into trouble, this time, for sleeping on the job.

Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo told the Judicial Services Tribunal that Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela was an embarrassment to the judiciary as he was not diligent in his duties.

Since 2013, 52 cases were lying on his desk, collecting dust.

This was a serious dereliction of duty. Looks like not much has changed since the days of Dicken’s chancery.

But in a U-turn, the judge president himself has been accused of unethical conduct for accepting a bribe from the University of Johannesburg’s vice chancellor, Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi, in a case involving one of its former employees.

If you add this to the 50 legal practitioners who have either been suspended or struck off the role since 2023, then we must fear for our judiciary.

The last bastion of our democracy has also been infected with the corruption pandemic sweeping the country.

If measures are not taken quickly to stop its spread, our judiciary would succumb to corruption and our democracy would be doomed.


** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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