Motata: Over to Mogoeng Mogoeng‚ JSC and even MPs
Judge Nkola Motata still has a chance to convince the Judicial Service Commission on why he should not be removed from office.
The Judicial Conduct Tribunal‚ in its report dated April 12‚ made public yesterday‚ found that Motata’s conduct at the scene of a car accident in January 2007‚ when he drove into the wall of a house in Johannesburg‚ and the remarks he made at the time‚ were racist and were prejudicial to the impartiality and dignity of the courts.
The Judicial Conduct Tribunal said the provisions of section 177(1)(a) of the Constitution should be invoked in this instance.
Section 177(1)(a) states that a judge may be removed from office if the Judicial Service Commission finds that the judge suffers from an incapacity‚ is grossly incompetent or is guilty of gross misconduct.
JSC secretary Sello Chiloane said Motata has been provided with the Judicial Conduct Tribunal report and has been asked‚ together with the complainants in the matter‚ to make further written submissions on the tribunal’s conclusion.
Chiloane said the JSC will then consider the further submissions‚ if any‚ together with the report from the tribunal.
“The JSC is still going to sit on a date to be determined by the Chief Justice (Mogoeng Mogoeng) to consider all submissions and the report by the tribunal‚” Chiloane said.
If the JSC agrees with the tribunal’s recommendation‚ it would then submit to the National Assembly that the judge be removed‚ by a resolution adopted with a supporting vote of at least two-thirds of its members.
Motata was granted a leave of absence following the the car accident in 2007. He has not been in court to perform his duties ever since.
Although Motata retired as a judge last year‚ he is still receiving all benefits of retired judges‚ including a salary for life.
If he is removed as judge‚ his impeachment would mean he would be stripped of the benefits accorded to judges.
Following the release of the report‚ one of the complainants‚ AfriForum‚ said the judicial conduct tribunal’s finding was a victory for everyone who believes that prominent figures in society cannot be allowed to get away with racist remarks simply because of their position.
“Should the JSC accept the JCT’s recommendation and start the process to fire Motata‚ it will make history‚ seeing as it will be the first time that a judge is removed from his post due to misconduct‚” said Kallie Kriel‚ CEO of AfriForum.