Judge Pillay slaps Mo­tata with costs

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ZELDA VENTER zelda.venter@inl.co.za

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.

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