Judge Pillay slaps Motata with costs
THERE will be no more hiding behind technicalities for drunken driving Judge Nkola Motata, as he faces possible impeachment if so recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Parliament.
This is after a judgement delivered yesterday in which Judge Dhaya Pillay of the KwaZulu-Natal Bench dismissed a technical application by Motata in which he challenged the constitutionality of various provisions of the Judicial Service Commission Act.
Pillay slapped Motata with a costs order for the application, but she also did not mince her words regarding his conduct.
Motata has been on paid special leave since he drove through a wall of a home in a Joburg suburb in 2007. He was convicted of driving under the influence and fined R20 000.
Pillay questioned aspects of Motata’s conduct, including why he would not own up to his offence and related conduct, and added that not awarding costs against him would be “unconscionable”.
Pillay also questioned Motata’s motives for only launching his constitutional challenge now. He turns 70 on February 6 and has been on special leave nearly 10 years, costing the taxpayer an estimated R16 million in salary and benefits.
Pillay said the delay in closing the matter was unwarranted. “The probabilities are that his leave is with full pay for almost 10 years, hence his disincentive to act expeditiously. After his 15th year of service he would have qualified for his tax-free gratuity amounting to double his prevailing annual salary,” she said. “After the age of 65 he could retire on pension with the leave of the (Justice) minister.”
She added that considering Motata has spent only five of his 16 years as a judge in active service, these factors severely burdened the public purse.
Last month, he approached the Gauteng High Court to challenge the appointment of a tribunal set up to investigate complaints following the comments he allegedly made during his incident. The case had to be heard by a judge from another division, as Motata remains a member of the Gauteng Bench.
Motata was summonsed to appear before a tribunal in June 2013, but the proceedings were postponed pending the outcome of his constitutional challenge against certain provisions of the Judicial Services Act.
If the judge was found to be guilty of gross misconduct, it could lead to his impeachment.
Pillay said Motata did not advance facts that show how the tribunal would prejudice him.
In turning down his challenge, it would mean that a new date for the tribunal hearing would have to be arranged.
MAKING CASE: Judge Nkola Motata fighting his impeachment.