Lim­popo judge ‘scares’ lawyers

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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

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