Pretoria - A man who launched a series of unsuccessful court applications stretching from the lower courts up to the Constitutional Court, claiming compensation ranging from R6 billion to trillions from state departments, has been declared a vexatious litigant.
The Minister of Police, in his official capacity, turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to obtain an order against David Chauke, to bar him from instituting legal proceedings without prior consent of the court.
The history of litigation between the parties began in 2009, when Chauke instituted action against the minister of Police and the minister of Justice and Constitutional Development (as it then was) in the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, claiming damages of R6bn.
This followed his successful appeal against a conviction and sentence of, among other, corruption charges for which he was convicted in 2007.
As his summons against the minister in that case was defective, the judge who heard the matter postponed the proceedings and asked Chauke, who acted on his own behalf, to rather obtain assistance from a Law Clinic.
But before the matter was in court again, Chauke issued another summons against the ministers of Police and the then minister of Justice and Constitutional Development on the same cause of action.
The result was that the court dismissed Chauke’s claim in totality.
Chauke then filed an unsuccessful application for leave to appeal against the judgment to the Supreme Court of Appeal. In that appeal attempt, he added President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Judge President of the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, as defendants.
Following the dismissal by the Supreme Court of Appeal of that application, which effectively was a dismissal of the claims instituted by Chauke against the police minister, Chauke petitioned the Constitutional Court, but was again unsuccessful.
Four years later, he again launched court proceedings in the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, for the same case.
In this case he also joined 15 other respondents, including virtually every government department, and escalated the claim from R6bn to R300bn in compensation.
This claim was yet again dismissed and Chauke was barred from approaching the court again on the same claim.
Unperturbed by this, Chauke turned to the Constitutional Court for direct access. He asked that the Apex Court overrule the other judgments which were all against him. This application was also unsuccessful.
Having been dismissed by the Concourt, Chauke petitioned the Supreme Court, effectively seeking an order setting aside the order of the Concourt.
In this application, his list of respondents grew further and he among others, joined the chairperson of Capitec Bank, the minister of Finance, the governor of the SA Reserve Bank, the National Credit Regulator, and the Ombudsman for Banking Services.
He also raised the monetary bar and this time claimed an additional $8 billion (about R148bn) for a so-called “research fund”.
This application was also dismissed by the Supreme Court, which then prompted Chauke to again petition the Concourt to appeal the order of the Supreme Court.
In this petition, the President of the Supreme Court, the Judge President of the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, and the various judges who ruled against him in the past, were all joined as respondents.
This application was also dismissed by the Concourt.
Having been dismissed by the Supreme Court on four occasions and the Concourt on three occasions, Chauke launched a new application to the high court, wherein he joined 33 parties and claimed R9 572 164 914.15 for loss of an industrial and home theatre system.
This, he claimed, was removed by the police from his home. He further claimed damages of R6 500 000 000 following his alleged unlawful arrest in 2007.
This action was again based on the same cause of action repeatedly being dismissed, being his alleged unlawful arrest and detention.
This again suffered the same fate as the previous actions instituted by him.
Acting Judge PA van Niekerk, in this present application, noted that all the above applications did not even include the plethora of applications made by Chauke in the lower courts.
The judge commented that all the claims were so exorbitantly quantified that the court could only draw an inference of irrationality and/or malice on Chauke’s part.
The judge said that in his view, this was a proverbial textbook example of vexatious proceedings, and without any doubt displayed a pattern of persistent litigation without any reasonable grounds.
The judge ruled that enough was enough and declared Chauke a vexatious litigant.