Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has provisionally suspended Pietermaritzburg senior magistrate Ashin Singh pending confirmation of his suspension by Parliament.
Lamola revealed Singh’s provisional suspension in a letter to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
“Having received a number of complaints against him, the Magistrates Commission on the prima facie evidence at its disposal resolved to summarily charge him with misconduct.
“A charge sheet, dated 27 September 2023, containing four counts of misconduct, was duly served on Mr Singh,” Lamola wrote in his letter dated December 18, 2023.
He said it was alleged that Singh sent inappropriate, concerning and threatening WhatsApp messages to journalists in July last year following publication of a story with a headline calling on the Magistrates Commission to probe KZN’s alleged murky immersion in spying and politics.
Lamola added that Singh had stated under oath that he had or has a close relationship with Crime Intelligence officials.
He said Singh was afforded an opportunity by the Magistrates Commission to provide written representation on why he should not be provisionally suspended from office.
“Although Mr Singh objects to his provisional suspension from office, he made no particular submissions/ representations in this regard, except for requiring further particulars and the prima facie evidence which the commission obtained relating to the charges of misconduct preferred against him.”
Lamola said the commission was of the view that the misconduct charges provided sufficient information for him to furnish the commission with a written statement.
“Having due regard to the serious nature of the allegations, the totality of the information at hand and Mr Singh’s representation, the commission’s executive committee at its meeting held on 13 October 2023 resolved to recommend that Mr Singh be provisionally suspended from office in terms of the section 13(3)(a) of the act,” he said.
According to Lamola, the commission was of the view that the existing evidence against Singh was of serious nature as to make it inappropriate for him to perform his judicial functions pending the conclusion of the misconduct inquiry against him.
“The representations/remarks he submitted do not address the issue of his provisional suspension and are not cogent or weighty for him not to be provisionally suspended from office.
“The reasons for his provisional suspension pending the outcome of the misconduct hearing far outweigh his ‘submissions’ for remaining in office,” he added.
Lamola said he could suspend a magistrate from office on advice of the Magistrates Commission and that a report on the provisional suspension and the reasons be tabled in Parliament.
“I decided to provisionally suspend Mr AAK Singh, a senior magistrate at Pietermaritzburg, from office with immediate effect pending the outcome of an investigation into his fitness to hold such office,” he said.
Singh could not be reached for comment.