‘Don’t sus­pend her, she’s a woman’

CityPress - - News - HER­MAN SCHOLTZ news@city­press.co.za

The pres­i­dent of the re­gional court in North West, who has been re­ported to the Hawks by the Mag­is­trate’s Com­mis­sion for al­legedly de­fraud­ing the state of thou­sands of rands, shouldn’t be sus­pended from her job be­cause too many women are be­ing sus­pended, an ANC MP said on Wed­nes­day. The Hawks in North West are in­ves­ti­gat­ing mag­is­trate Seka Monaledi – one of the most pow­er­ful women in the jus­tice sys­tem – af­ter the Mag­is­trate’s Com­mis­sion re­ported her to the Hawks fol­low­ing a fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the com­mis­sion’s sec­re­tary, Vick Misser, told City Press’ sis­ter news­pa­per, Rap­port.

Not only does Monaledi stand ac­cused of fraud­u­lent claims for travel ex­penses to­talling nearly R1 mil­lion, she was also ab­sent from work for long pe­ri­ods while al­legedly sell­ing luxury goods from the boot of her car.

De­spite this, ANC MPs unan­i­mously de­cided not to con­firm Monaledi’s sus­pen­sion dur­ing a meet­ing of Par­lia­ment’s jus­tice port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day.

Monaledi is the head of all re­gional courts in North West, which hear more than 99% of all se­ri­ous crim­i­nal cases, in­clud­ing mur­der and cor­rup­tion mat­ters. In ad­di­tion, she is a mem­ber of the SA Ju­di­cial Ed­u­ca­tion In­sti­tute, which trains judges and mag­is­trates, and she serves on the ethics com­mit­tee of the Mag­is­trate’s Com­mis­sion.

Monaledi al­legedly claimed thou­sands of rands for travel ex­penses for work pur­poses and to at­tend meet­ings – a to­tal of R953 838.56 over three years. But the Mag­is­trate’s Com­mis­sion later found out that some of these meet­ings never took place, the com­mis­sion’s Hans Mei­jer told MPs this week.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­mis­sion, these trips didn’t hap­pen once or twice, but 41 times. Mei­jer said they had also ex­am­ined toll and cus­toms records and came to the con­clu­sion that, oc­ca­sion­ally, Monaledi wasn’t even in the coun­try when she was sup­pos­edly trav­el­ling in Pre­to­ria and North West for work.

The records are in ad­di­tion to sworn state­ments and other documentary ev­i­dence ob­tained by the com­mis­sion re­lat­ing to Monaledi’s al­leged crimes.

When an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched, it was found that she wasn’t at work in Mma­batho 71.49% of the time she was sup­posed to have been there. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port com­piled by Judge Fran­cis Le­godi, it is un­cer­tain if she was in her of­fice for the re­main­ing 28.51% of the time. But Monaledi seem­ingly wasn’t wast­ing time. The com­mis­sion al­leges she was also sell­ing luxury clothes from the boot of her car dur­ing work hours.

On top of that, Monaledi is an ac­tive di­rec­tor of a com­pany in­volved in con­duct­ing tours and con­struc­tion, as well as a co­op­er­a­tive that, it is sus­pected, farms pigs.

Mag­is­trates may not earn ex­tra money with­out per­mis­sion from the min­is­ter of jus­tice.

It’s clear from the re­port that the com­mis­sion fought an up­hill bat­tle to in­ves­ti­gate Monaledi.

She re­fused to co­op­er­ate with the two mag­is­trates in­ves­ti­gat­ing her, say­ing they were of a lower rank and there­fore not com­pe­tent to in­ves­ti­gate her. When Le­godi in­ter­vened and in­structed her to co­op­er­ate, she still re­fused. In Septem­ber, Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Ma­sutha wrote to Monaledi to ask her to give rea­sons she should not be sus­pended. Days be­fore her sus­pen­sion on Novem­ber 30, she took leave un­til Jan­uary 20 this year and the com­mis­sion has not heard from her since. Yet, none of this con­vinced ANC MPs on the jus­tice com­mit­tee to con­firm the sus­pen­sion. The sit­ting of the jus­tice com­mit­tee, which has over the past decade never op­posed a de­ci­sion to sus­pend a mag­is­trate, be­gan to de­rail when the ANC’s Mak­gath­atso Pi­lane-Ma­jake brought up the em­pow­er­ment of women. “My con­cern is that we have too many sus­pen­sions of women.” She said rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the com­mis­sion didn’t have to re­act to the com­ment, but should “take it home and think about it”. Pi­lane-Ma­jake said she wasn’t try­ing to con­done fraud and mis­con­duct, but the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral should in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter, rather than Monaledi’s “ju­niors” where “pro­fes­sional jeal­ousy” might play a role. From that point, other ANC MPs also cas­ti­gated the com­mis­sion about how Monaledi could have been a “fit and proper” per­son to be ap­pointed in the first place. Monaledi could not be reached for com­ment as she was not at work.

TALK TO US Do you think it makes sense not to sus­pend some­one sus­pected of fraud or mis­con­duct be­cause that per­son is a woman?

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Seka Monaledi

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