'Are you a corrupt judge?', high court judge grilled over CR17 sealed documents
GAUTENG deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba faced a tough time during his Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interview as he was questioned on the sealing of the CR17 documents.
Ledwaba heard the court matter on the unsealing of the CR17 documents last year following an application by the EFF. The judge was being interviewed for a job at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
The documents were sealed in 2019 after the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released her report into the CR17 campaign.
She found that President Cyril Ramaphosa had lied to Parliament when he responded to a question on a R500 000 donation made to his 2017 ANC presidency campaign.
During the application, the EFF said the documents remaining sealed would encourage corruption.
The party motivated for the unsealing of the documents, which include financial statements reflecting payments made to the CR17 campaign.
The judgment on the court case has been reserved.
On Wednesday, Ledwaba faced questions from JSC commissioners over the case. SCA president Mandisa Maya asked Ledwaba to comment on the accusations made against him regarding the case.
Ledwaba has been labelled corrupt by people who remain unhappy with the case.
Maya asked: “Are you a corrupt judge as some have painted you?"
“I failed to understand why there are rumours that I was protecting my colleagues and the president,” Ledwaba replied.
He explained that because there was never an agreement by the parties on the issue of unsealing the documents, he offered to facilitate the matter in a court hearing as it involved third parties.
“On this CR17 matter, I called all the parties and there was an issue of whether the contents of this document should be available to the public or not. I was also told that some of the information in the envelope involved third parties. This was a meeting in my office.
“I ruled that since the interest of third parties were involved, I did not even see the envelope. I ruled that if any parties view that this document should be made available, I am willing to make a hearing on the matter.”
EFF leader Julius Malema, a JSC commissioner, asked Ledwaba to clarify the process to seal documents.
Malema said he was disturbed that no court hearing was needed for a document to be sealed.
“You went to an office and you have a meeting and you seal documents. The way you sealed them allowed the rumours to be spread and senior judges are being implicated. Do you not think it could have been handled differently? Everyone just throws a name and says this one was in CR17 documents,” said Malema.
Ledwaba explained: "I did not call the parties and say I will seal the documents. I said this is an issue that needs to be dealt with by the court and in the meantime let the documents remain sealed."
Malema indicated: "My worry is we can not seal such documents of such high profile matters through a letter. If we did not come in as the EFF with a fresh application, those things would have remained sealed."