Former Independent Communications Authority of South Africa chairperson Rubben Mohlaloga. Picture: Simone Kley/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The Western Cape High Court has slammed former Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) chairperson Rubben Mohlaloga, saying he was trying to hold on to his job for the benefits of the office.

Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said in a written judgment, rejecting Mohlaloga’s application to keep his job, that Parliament had every right to remove him after he was convicted of fraud.

Icasa has since appointed Keabetswe Modimoeng as acting chairperson.

Mohlaloga, former Land Bank chief executive Phil Mohlahlane, and an attorney were convicted of defrauding the bank of R6million last year.

Last month, the court sentenced Mohlaloga to 20 years in prison, but he is appealing the conviction.

Mohlaloga had lodged an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court to stop Parliament from removing him from his job.

But the judge said it was clear that Mohlaloga wanted to keep his job to retain the benefits of the office.

“His counsel made it clear, however, that the applicant did not seek to impugn his suspension. It was accordingly apparent that the applicant’s concern was not about being prevented from fulfilling his statutory functions, but rather about being deprived of the benefits of office,” wrote Judge Binns-Ward in his judgment.

He further stated that Parliament was within its rights to remove him from office, despite Mohlaloga launching an appeal against his conviction.

This was based on the nature of the lengthy processes appeals take.

“The facts of the matter demonstrate that the criminal appellate process, just like the civil one, can be a long, drawn-out process. It is more than a year since the applicant was convicted, and he is still in the process of obtaining leave to appeal against the conviction,” said Judge Binns-Ward.

If he lost his appeal, Mohlaloga could lodge a special leave to appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal, he said.

If he was not successful in the SCA, he could go all the way up to the Constitutional Court.

The judge said Mohlaloga, who was appointed Icasa chairperson in 2017, would have spent his entire term of office running in and out of court.

This is where the Icasa Act comes in, by allowing Parliament to intervene and remove a councillor who is convicted of a serious crime.

Political Bureau