Pretoria - Eleven years after he ploughed his gold Jaguar through the wall of a house in Johannesburg North, now retired Judge Nkola Motata is awaiting the recommendations of a Judicial Conduct Tribunal into whether he should be found guilty of gross misconduct.
The tribunal sat last week and heard submissions following complaints levelled against him by AfriForum. The organisation claimed that Motata made racist remarks to Richard Baird, the owner of the house into whose wall he had crashed into in January 2007.
It was found that Judge Motata was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time. He allegedly told Baird on the scene of the crash that “No boer is going to undermine me…. This used to be the white man’s land, but it is not anymore.”
He was earlier fined R20 000 for driving under the influence. Motata had appealed his drunken driving conviction, but this was turned down in 2010.
The wheels of justice was grinding especially slowly in the case of the controversial judge, who had launched numerous constitutional challenges and other applications in a bid to avoid possible impeachment.
But the tribunal now has a month since it concluded its hearing on Friday in which to submit its report regarding its recommendations to the JSC.
JSC spokesperson, lawyer JP Fourie told the Pretoria News on Tuesday that unless Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng declared that the JSC had to consider the recommendations on an earlier date, the matter might be considered on April 9, during the next scheduled sitting of the JSC.
Judge Motata can also make further representations to the JSC when it considered the recommendations. If the JSC found that he was indeed guilty of gross misconduct, it had to submit its findings and reasons to the Speaker of the National Assembly.
A judge can only be impeached (removed from office) by the president following a two thirds majority vote by the National Assembly.
It is not clear how long this process could take, but Fourie explained that in the case of impeachment, Judge Motata would face losing his judges salary and benefits, which judges enjoyed even after their retirement.
He will turn 71 next month and had been on pension since last year on full pay. The controversial judge had in fact not been back on the bench since the accident 11 years ago, as he had been on special leave, with full pay, since then.
It was estimated in 2016 that he had already cost the taxpayer about R16-million.
KwaZulu Natal Judge President Achmat Jappie, who headed the tribunal, was tasked with making findings on and reporting on whether the words uttered by Judge Motata on the scene of the accident could be classified as being racist. If so, it has to determine whether this rendered him guilty of gross misconduct, as defined in the Constitution.
It also has to be determined whether the manner in which he conducted his defence during his criminal trial is inconsistent with the ethics of a judicial officer.
Two witnesses testified during his hearing and final arguments were concluded on Friday.