Johannesburg – Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has asked Ingonyama Trust Board chairperson Jerome Ngwenya to refrain from acting as a practising judge as he resigned from the bench.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mogoeng announced that he had sent a letter to Ngwenya requesting him to confirm, in writing, that he would actively distance himself from the use of the titles judge or justice.
Mogoeng said he wanted to inform the public that once a person resigns from judgeship they can no longer be regarded as a judge.
The chief justice said it was “clearly stated that the purpose of the letter was to ensure a common understanding of the use of the title before the issuing of a public statement to clarify the issue”.
According to Mogoeng’s office, Ngwenya was appointed as a judge in 2000 but he resigned and his attempt to be reappointed was unsuccessful.
”He cannot, therefore, project himself in documents or be regarded as a judge or honourable justice,” the office said.
Ngwenya has been referring to himself as a judge and has allowed people to regard, address and treat him as a judge or justice, based on various documents and numerous accounts.
A person who resigns from the bench is different to a retired judge who retains the right to use the title.
”It is important for the public to know that unlike serving and retired judges, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) cannot take steps against a person who has resigned as a judge when such a person is alleged to have done or said something believed to be unethical,” the chief justice said.
He said only those who were subject to the authority of the JSC were therefore addressed and treated as judges. The risk of allowing someone to impersonate a judge was that they could harm the judiciary without any adverse consequences.