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Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, in line to be chief justice, comes under fire

Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo. I Bonile Bam

Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo. I Bonile Bam

Published Oct 21, 2021


DURBAN - AT LEAST two objections have been submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa against Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo’s possible appointment as the next Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court.

Judge Mlambo is among the eight candidates shortlisted.

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Among the reasons cited for the objections were that he allegedly faced impeachment and imprisonment on eight counts of misconduct. He was accused of lacking ethics and allegedly demonstrating his contempt for the Constitution, the law and the truth.

The objections were submitted on Friday by Limpopo Legal Solutions, a non-profit organisation which advocates for human rights, and KZN-based advocate Anthony Brink.

Limpopo Legal Solutions alleged that Judge Mlambo’s appointment would send a wrong message to members of the public and taint the image of the judiciary, as it would not promote the spirit of the Constitution.

“He has been the obstacle to progress in the corruption case preferred against Judge President of the Limpopo High Court Ephraim Makgoba. The case has been stalled since 2017,” Limpopo Legal Solutions said.

The NPO alleged that Judge Mlambo had resisted furnishing the Hawks investigating officer with a roster or a roll call of the matter to establish whether Judge Makgoba was allocated the case, which was allegedly subject to corrupt activities. “The obstructive conduct of Mlambo amounts to defeating the ends of justice, since Limpopo Legal Solutions is the voice of the voiceless and always acts in the interests of members of the public in terms of section 38 (d) of the Constitution Act 108 of 1996.”

The NPO added that Judge Mlambo’s conduct was “clearly a violation of basic human rights, and his appointment would be rejected by the public”.

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“Mlambo claims to control the judiciary of the Republic of South Africa, and that they have a powerful network that cannot be penetrated by organisations such as Limpopo Legal Solutions,” the NPO said.

It said Judge Mlambo’s appointment would not enhance the image of the judiciary, but would reflect badly on the entire judiciary and the country.

On his objection to Judge Mlambo's possible appointment, Brink wrote: “Mlambo faces impeachment and imprisonment on eight counts of capital misconduct, including crimes charged in finely detailed, documented complaints filed against him in mid-2017. These are currently pending on appeal, before the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).”

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Brink also accused the JCC of corruptly closing ranks around Judge Mlambo as a ranking member of the JSC to protect him from being held to account, impeached and jailed for his alleged crimes and other misconduct.

“Email records recently turned up in response to a broadly-framed PAIA (Promotion of Access to Information) request filed with the Society of Advocates of KZN showing that the JSC repeatedly worked behind the scenes to get me struck off the roll of advocates – for allegedly disgracefully, unprofessionally indicting Mlambo JP’s gross misconduct in his eight affirmed … complaints filed with the JCC under section 14 of the JSC Act.

“The JSC corruptly moved to protect one of its fellows by trying to arrange the professional assassination of the witness against Mlambo, like criminal gangsters contracting for a hit to be carried out against a trial witness.”

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Brink added that Judge Mlambo’s appointment as the next chief justice would be “exceedingly imprudent”.

“Should you appoint him chief justice, the damage to local and international confidence in the integrity of our country’s judiciary, and for our country’s international standing generally, will likely be extreme when this scandal blows. And the cat is already out of the bag,” Brink said.

Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale said the short-listing panel had confirmed receipt of more than 500 submissions of public comment in support of and in objection to eligible nominees.

“The panel is in the process of evaluating these comments and engaging nominees on these submissions. The panel will address objections to shortlisted nominees in its report to the president,” Seale said.

Judge Mlambo said he has responded to the objections and that the Presidency has his response.

JSC spokesperson advocate Dali Mpofu did not comment by the time of publication.

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