JSC tribunal hears judge Makhubele 'was secretive about her Prasa job'
The judicial conduct tribunal hearing against Pretoria high court judge Tintswalo Makhubele on Tuesday heard how secretive she was about her appointment as interim board chair of Prasa.
Makhubele was appointed a judge in November 2017 and refused to resume her duties in January 2018, citing other commitments.
Giving evidence at the tribunal, the judge president of the Gauteng division of the high court, Dunstan Mlambo, painted a picture of how Makhubele was not open and honest about her real reasons for being unable to resume her official judicial duties in January 2018, in line with her appointment letter.
Mlambo told the tribunal that when Makhubele did not immediately resume her court duties, she cited her duties as a member of the water tribunal as a reason for her failing to report to court.
“This was despite us previously discussing it and me telling her that I found no conflict of interest in her water tribunal duties and her judicial duties,” Mlambo told the hearing.
He told the tribunal the process he went through, informing newly appointed judges three months before they resumed their duties about several administrative things they had to iron out. Makhubele was one of the newly appointed judges.
“The idea behind this was for them to wind up whatever they were involved in and get out of appointments so that when they started, they started clean.” This also ensured that they had no attachment to another income-earning activity.
The judge president said he predicted problems when Makhubele failed to show up to take her oath of office, which meant she could not be allocated work.
Mlambo said he summoned Makhubele to a meeting which was attended by himself and the deputy judge president, Aubrey Ledwaba.
He said Makhubele was asked why she had not taken her oath of office, to which she is said to have cited the water tribunal role. She is also said to have stated she had already asked that she be allowed to resume her duties in April rather than January.
“I told her that her request has been refused and I had made this clear to her."
Mlambo said he had already caught up in media reports that Makhubele had been appointed as Prasa board chair.
“I voiced my complete disappointment that she knew from October that she had been recommended for permanent judicial office but went on to take this other role.
“My biggest disappointment was that there were cases involving alleged corruption at Prasa that were at that court. I asked her how she could join an organisation [in such circumstances] and felt [it was not good],” Mlambo said.
Mlambo then said Ledwaba had asked if she could resign from the Prasa position, and her response was that she didn’t want to disappoint the minister.
#UniteBehind, which is the complainant in the matter, accused Makhubele of gross misconduct while she was Prasa chair, including allegations that she interfered in the Siyaya litigation and breached the separation of powers principle.
TimesLIVE previously reported the Siyaya group had almost R1bn worth of contracts with Prasa, making the contracts part of a bigger state capture pattern.
#UniteBehind also alleged that, during that time, she pushed through — contrary to the legal advice of her own legal affairs division, which she sidelined — the settlement of about R59m with a set of companies in the Siyaya group, owned by Makhensa Mabunda.
Mabunda was allegedly politically connected to Prasa’s former and allegedly corrupt CEO Lucky Montana.
The tribunal is led by retired former judge president of the KwaZulu-Natal high court Achmat Jappie, retired judge Seun Moshidi, and advocate Noxolo Maduba-Silevu.
The hearing continues.
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