Limpopo judge ‘scares’ lawyers
Barely a year has passed since Ephraim Makgoba was appointed as the judge president of the new Limpopo division of the high court, and already he’s facing charges of intimidation.
At least two complaints have been laid at the Judicial Services Commission ( JSC) against Makgoba by two advocates over whose cases he presided.
One of the complainants is Kevin Maluleke (36), who has also opened a case of intimidation against Makgoba at the Polokwane Police Station.
Maluleke claims that on June 3, while he was in a meeting with the Polokwane Association of Advocates, he received a call from Makgoba.
The latter allegedly ranted at him and said that he was in contempt of court for refusing to submit his advocates’ admission certificate to Makgoba’s office after his secretary asked for it.
Maluleke said his only crime was to ask why the judge wanted it in the first place, and whether or not all advocates were required to submit theirs. He also asked for a formal request to be sent to him so he could put it in his records.
“The judge made threats to me and said that he was going to deal with me professionally and personally,” Maluleke said, adding that he felt threatened by Makgoba and feared for his career and his life.
“I laid charges of intimidation against the judge president so that the police could investigate and maybe find out from him what he meant by ‘dealing with me personally and professionally’,” Maluleke told City Press.
“I am afraid of him.”
Maluleke has asked the JSC to suspend Makgoba from his duties because he is still presiding over cases in the Polokwane High Court.
“I have made an application to the JSC that the judge president be placed on special leave pending the outcome of internal and police investigations,” he said.
In his affidavit, Maluleke claimed that Makgoba threatened to deal with him “like he dealt with advocate Shadrack Tebeila”.
Tebeila is also involved in a standoff with the judge president. He laid a complaint against Makgoba in May with the JSC, alleging that the judge phoned him on September 25 and threatened him because he was considering appealing a court order Makgoba had granted.
In his affidavit, Tebeila said he felt “undermined” and “threatened” by Makgoba.
“During the phone conversation, he asked me why I was appealing his court order and subsequently told me not to appeal to the Constitutional Court,” he said.
Limpopo police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed a case was opened against Makgoba and is being investigated.
Makgoba declined to comment, telling City Press by SMS: “Judges do not communicate directly with the media, please contact the JSC.”
Advocate Nathi Mncube, spokesperson for Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, did not respond to requests for comment.
Makgoba was appointed after interviews conducted in Cape Town last year. One of the contenders he beat to the post was Oscar Pistorius’ trial judge, Thokozile Masipa.
During his interview for the post, Makgoba told the interview panel: “With a new division like Limpopo, one must start with a clean slate.”
Limpopo High Court Judge President Ephraim Makgoba