Parliament to go ahead with hearing that may see Kempton Park chief magistrate fired
Judy van Schalkwyk was first accused of abuse of power in 2013
Parliament has decided to go ahead with processing a report that may result in Kempton Park chief magistrate Judy van Schalkwyk being fired.
Van Schalkwyk got into hot water with the Magistrates Commission in 2013, when her colleagues laid complaints against her. She was accused of abuse of power, which included:
- attending to personal business during working hours;
- borrowing money from subordinates;
- gambling during working hours; and
- asking a magistrate to drive her to a casino at 10am.
Her case dragged on for years after she initially took the matter to court. She subsequently lost in all attempts, including in her appeals. She has since been found guilty by the commission, which has recommended that she be removed from office.
During the sitting of parliament's justice and correctional services portfolio committee, MPs heard that Van Schalkwyk did not want them to continue with hearing her matter because she had taken her case on review.
But MPs agreed to go ahead with the matter anyway because Van Schalkwyk, in her application, does not seek relief against justice and correctional service minister Ronald Lamola.
The commission's ethics committee chairperson, advocate Cassim Moosa, had initially told MPs that with the pending case it might be in the interests of justice to allow the review to conclude. He said there were technical matters at play.
Moosa said the question over whether to proceed was, pending the outcome of the review, whether Van Schalkwyk would have “had a fair opportunity to have ventilated whatever difficulties and challenges that she may have had in a review proceeding”.
But, he said, the fact that there was no relief being sought against the minister, the committee “can proceed in terms to take a decision regarding the recommendation of the minister”.
Lamola had supported the decision of the Magistrates Commission.
Ultimately, MPs did not want to delay the committee hearing the matter and decided to set it down for September 9.
DA MP Werner Horn was the first to motivate against the postponement, saying legal advice from parliament indicated there was nothing preventing the committee from proceeding with such a case if there was no court order stopping it.
He was supported by ANC MP Richard Dyantyi, who said he was of the view that as things were, nothing prevented parliament from proceeding.
“One is very allergic to anything that postpones a matter when you have no reason to do that,” said Dyantyi.
MPs pointed out that during this period Kempton Park was operating under an acting chief magistrate, meaning that Van Schalkwyk's colleagues had to carry an extra workload.