Pretoria - Retired Constitutional Court Judge and Freedom Under Law chairperson, Johann Kriegler, said Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela, who presides over the Senzo Meyiwa case, will have to lead the trial even if his suspension has been approved.
“The overwhelming probability is that Judge Maumela, although suspended, will continue and complete the trial that started before him and has been running before him. You can’t just move that case to another judge, it doesn’t work like that ... He has to finish that job,” said Kriegler.
Kriegler was speaking on eNCA on Friday afternoon after it came to light that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has recommended the suspension of Judge Maumela and Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi, pending the outcome of an inquiry into their alleged failure to deliver a series of reserved judgments.
In a statement, the JSC said that during its meetings on January 26 and April 20, 2023, it considered the reports of the Judicial Conduct Committee relating to the complaints against the judges relating to their failure to deliver numerous reserved judgments.
JSC’s advocate Sesi Baloyi said due to the seriousness of the complaints, the JSC had advised President Cyril Ramaphosa to place the two judges on suspension, pending the outcome of the tribunal processes.
However, Kriegler said the JSC’s recommendation was not binding, and added it was unlikely that Ramaphosa will go against the recommendation.
“The JSC is a special body that knows what it’s talking about, and it can give the president some advice, but technically, the president is not bound by what is expressed in a recommendation,” he said.
Kriegler also added that the issue of firing judges was a long and politically sensitive process.
“You cannot have judges fired because they give out judgments that government doesn’t like, you cannot have judges fired because they give out unpopular judgments. At the same time, if they are not up to the job, you must be able to get rid of them, but that is a process ... it takes a long time,” he told the broadcaster.
Meanwhile, Bongani Ntanzi, one of the men accused in the ongoing murder trial of the late SA soccer player, Senzo Meyiwa, was denied bail.
Ntanzi appeared in the North Gauteng High Court on Friday morning where he hoped that court would rule in his favour.
He said on the day Meyiwa was gunned down, he was working at a mine in Carltonville.
The NPA said the matter had been postponed to May 2 and is to proceeded until May 26. A second date for June 5 to 15 was also reserved for the trial.