Ex-judge loses case against president

07 December 2017 - 07:31 By Aron Hyman And Philani Nombembe
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Image: Ruvan Boshoff

A retired judge overplayed his hand when he tried to sue President Jacob Zuma for millions of rand that he felt had been denied to him by former president Thabo Mbeki.

On Wednesday, Cape Town High Court judges Patrick Gamble, Daniel Dlodlo and Elizabeth Baartman dismissed Willem Heath's application to challenge Mbeki's refusal in 2001 to discharge him from the bench.

He was also ordered to pay the president's costs and those of the second respondent, the minister of justice.

When Mbeki refused to discharge him, Heath resigned, foregoing the benefits that come with either retiring or being discharged from the bench. These include a full judge's salary for life, currently of R1,765,934.

Then-president Nelson Mandela appointed Heath as head of the Special Investigating Unit in 1997. His woes began four years later when the Constitutional Court ruled that his role was in conflict with judicial independence.