Nzimande challenges complaint that sparked probe

Suspended KwaZulu-Natal regional court president Eric Nzimande is challenging the initial complaint that was laid against him.

Suspended KwaZulu-Natal regional court president Eric Nzimande is challenging the initial complaint that was laid against him.

Published Mar 5, 2024


Suspended KwaZulu-Natal regional court president Eric Nzimande is challenging the initial complaint that was laid against him that sparked an investigation which has resulted in him facing 162 charges of misconduct.

Nzimande’s disciplinary hearing, which the media has been allowed to attend, is taking place at the Point Branch Court in Durban.

Nzimande has entered a plea of not guilty to charges which include that he allegedly received money from attorneys who were acting as regional magistrates in the regional division, allegedly unlawfully and wrongfully victimised or sexually harassed an acting magistrate, and allegedly requested a loan from an attorney for his daughter’s university studies.

He also had been accused of contacting an accused person in a human trafficking case and of being at a casino when he should have been performing official duties.

Nzimande’s legal representative, Ravindra Maniklall, on Monday argued that the initial complaint was made by Lindelwa Gumede, who was an acting magistrate between 2012 and 2015. She had alleged that she made payments of R140 000 into Nzimande’s bank account and also alleged that she was sexually harassed by Nzimande.

“Gumede gave a sworn affidavit to the Magistrates Commission with her allegations where two investigators were appointed by the commission. However, Gumede was given questions by one of the investigators about the affidavit and she instead chose to not respond but rather withdrew her statement.”

Maniklall added that the commission had a twofold obligation that was to support the evidence of Gumede or withdraw the charges against Nzimande.

“The commission should have informed Nzimande about the withdrawal of the statement and acquitted him of the charges. However, the commission chose to continue with the investigation and check into the private bank accounts of Nzimande, which was an invasion of privacy and further led to more attorneys and acting magistrate being subpoenaed to be investigated when they had not made any complaints against Nzimande.”

Maniklall said that there was no evidence that any alleged payments made by acting magistrates and attorneys was to get special favours from Nzimande.

“Nzimande maintains he is not guilty and asks the commission to prove the allegations as there will be no admission from his side.”

Evidence leader advocate Sipokazi Poswa-Lerotholi, who led the evidence of first witness Magistrate Johannes Meijer from the Magistrate Judicial Quality Assurance Assessment unit, said that Gumede had only withdrawn her complaint due to not having enough legal fees.

“Gumede in her statement said that she withdrew her complaint due to financial constraints but still stands by the affidavit that she gave, which is reason enough for the commission to continue their investigation into Nzimande.” Meijer, in giving his evidence, said that he was allocated the file with Gumede’s complaint in 2016.

“I was duty bound due to the seriousness of the complaint to make recommendations to the Magistrates Commission for an investigation. I also was duty bound to report the matter to the police. The Magistrates Commission appointed investigators to investigate the matter.”

Meijer said that investigators and police discovered that Nzimande also made visits to casinos during working hours. “It was established that Nzimande’s working hours were from 7.45am to 4.15pm on weekdays. My role was also to sift out when Nzimande was in the casino during working hours as duties are meant to be performed during those hours. This does not include after hours or weekends.”

Maniklall is expected to cross-examine Meijer on Tuesday.

The Mercury