The decision to prosecute KZN Judge President Chiman Patel, was done to humiliate him, a leading advocate said.

Durban - The decision to prosecute KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Chiman Patel on a charge of crimen injuria was done with an “improper motive to humiliate him and treat him like a common criminal”, Marumo Moerane, one of the country’s leading advocates, said on Thursday.

“This has been a painful and sad experience for the judge president. This is not the last that will be heard of this matter,” he said.

Moerane was addressing the court after the charge was withdrawn against Judge Patel, as expected, on Thursday.

No reasons were given, which raised the eyebrows of the presiding Durban Regional Court magistrate Sharon Marks and the dozen or so advocates, attorneys and relatives who came to court.

Marks, who is acting regional court president in Durban, said that she, too, would take the matter further, ordering that the proceedings on Thursday and from Patel’s first court appearance last month be transcribed so that she could send a complaint to the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

The charge related to an allegation that during a meeting in his chambers in October last year, Judge Patel had called stationery clerk Lindiwe Nxele “nonsense, trash, rubbish and a useless person”. Judge Patel denied this and The Mercury has been told by several sources that other witnesses who gave statements to the police backed him and not Nxele.

Moerane, SC, who, along with advocate Pingla Hemraj SC, represented Judge Patel free of charge “so as not to have any part in this criminal waste of taxpayers’ money”, described the decision to prosecute as a “disgusting travesty of justice”.

“Even on a perfunctory glance at the docket, anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have realised on the facts and on the law that there was never a case against him.

“How the decision to prosecute was made is difficult to fathom. It could never have been based on an honest belief in the guilt of the judge president,” said Moerane.

Who took the decision to prosecute Judge Patel and who took the decision to withdraw the charge was not clear on Thursday.

The three-woman prosecution team in court at the last appearance did not come to court and it was left to senior public prosecutor Barend Groen to explain that two were off sick and one was “in Empangeni and is not coming”.

His office had not seen the docket nor been part of any decision that was taken regarding it.

The Mercury