WhatsApp with the Mogoeng diss, judge?
A Western Cape High Court judge hoping for promotion was grilled yesterday about WhatsApp messages in which Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was accused of "fruitless and wasteful expenditure" and having "no conviction or insight".Judge Rosheni Allie was being interviewed by the Judicial Service Commission for the position of deputy judge-president of the Western Cape division of the High Court when the messages she sent in 2014, to Ziyad Motala, professor of law at Howard University School of Law in Washington DC, were mentioned.They were sent after Mogoeng suggested the introduction of norms and standards requiring greater efficiencies in the judicial system.Mogoeng said trial courts should sit for a "minimum of six hours a day and judicial officers should strictly comply with court hours".In a draft response to Mogoeng's proposals, the judges of the Western Cape division said any directive that treated judges "like minor civil servants or middle-ranking managers" would undermine the dignity of the courts.In her messages to Motala, Allie hit out at "fruitless and wasteful expenditure" involved in flying "the chief justice and his undemocratically appointed group of judges all over the world ... with his eight bodyguards who have to remain outside the hotel in case any of them need help ... ER24 personnel to work on us if anyone has a headache ... and his extravagant conference [on norms and standards]".This, she said, was "a sick roadshow by an individual with no conviction or insight". She initially denied it referred to the chief justice but later conceded.Another message to Motala, who was previously at the University of the Western Cape, read: "The minister is not making that type of funding available to the (chief justice) whose current and past extravagance is an indicator that he will not manage the resources as indicated."She accused fellow Western Cape High Court judge Nathan Erasmus of being an "apartheid apparatchik" and said Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Steven Majiedt was "compromised in his independence". Another message read: "I am going to send the CJ an email now demanding an answer to the question. I am no [Judge Bennie] Griesel or (advocate Jeremy) Gauntlett . where political indiscretion can be exploited. I am no armchair strap."Allie maintained yesterday the messages were "private communication between friends", and their disclosure to the commission was an "unconscionable breach of trust".She added: "The text messages were part of a robust debate ... he launched an unfair attack on the judges of our division ... our objections to the norms and standards was a result of consultation with all other divisions. I trusted him as a friend and he breached the trust."She apologised to the commission for the messages.Northern Cape Judge President Frans Kgomo asked: "You say you apologise to these people and you have named them in these WhatsApps ... have you written to them or told them?"Allie said the exchanges were in the "heat of the moment. Two years have lapsed. I thought that's where it would remain. You have only read out what I have said and not what he has said. There is a context to everything. There is a history when friends become angry with each other."Commissioner CPFourie said Motala had alerted the commission to the messages because the "exchanges demonstrate that [Allie] doesn't have the gravitas, maturity and temperament of being the deputy judge president".Commissioner and EFF leader Julius Malema asked Allie: "Do you think it is honourable and expected of a judge to discuss colleagues with friends? It is unacceptable conduct of a judge who has applied for a senior judicial position which has everything to do with leadership. You should have on your own withdrawn from this, up until you have apologised and communicated to your colleagues."Allie refused to withdraw herself from the running to replace Judge Jeanette Traverso, who has retired.She is up against judges Patricia Goliath and Andre de Lange.