Suspended Judge Makhubele finally appears before tribunal

Judge Nana Makhubele. File

Judge Nana Makhubele. File

Published Jan 26, 2024


Suspended Gauteng High Court, Pretoria Judge Makhubele eventually took the stand to present her case before the Judicial Conduct Tribunal into a misconduct complaint against her.

Judge Makhubele said she is a “very respected” and “respectable” person and will prove that she did nothing wrong.

She took the stand yesterday before the tribunal and represented herself in her fight not to possibly be impeached. This is after her senior legal team earlier told the tribunal that they can only represent her at the end of February. The tribunal refused to grant the postponement.

Judge Makhubele this week indicated that she might launch urgent court proceedings against the refusal of a postponement, but she nevertheless took the stand yesterday.

The tribunal is investigating a complaint by civil society organisation #UniteBehind into allegations of gross misconduct. It claims Judge Makhubele violated the separation of powers principle by serving both as a judge and chairperson of a state-owned company, Prasa.

Judge Makhubele has been denying these allegations from the start and always maintained that by the time she was sworn in as a judge, she had already resigned from the Prasa board.

In the opening to her evidence, Judge Makhubele said before she started, she wanted to say that it was a matter of her word against that of Gauteng High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo.

She said that he, in taking the stand earlier, levelled a lot of allegations against her, including that she ignored his directive to report to his office in the beginning of January 2018, to be sworn in as a judge. This allegation forms one of the charges against her.

He claimed he contacted her on various occasions to alert her to the fact that she had to be sworn in and later questioned her as to why she did not pitch.

But Judge Makhubele yesterday said this is not true. She said it was a question of her word against his and she is prepared to submit her electronic devices for a forensic investigation to analyse the messages between them at the time, which will prove that Judge Mlambo did not call or messaged her.

“It's his word against mine. I know it's not enough to just deny his word to find the truth. I can prove it…,” she said.

She called on the tribunal to order the forensic investigation, as she said she cannot ask Judge Mlambo to submit his devices for the investigation.

Judge Makhubele also testified that Judge Mlambo, who in his evidence said she had disappointed him, was actually the one who told her to apply for the judge’s position.

Judge Mlambo earlier told the tribunal that he was disappointed that she had taken the Prasa position while she was appointed as a judge to a division that dealt with matters of state capture involving Prasa. He said he had no idea about her involvement with Prasa at the time.

Judge Makhubele was meanwhile also aggrieved by the fact that she was severely criticised for delaying the tribunal by not testifying when she had to. She said it was not all her fault and she faced many challenges, such as making copies of all the documents as she is now representing herself. She said she had to go to PostNet to do so.

She then proceeded to give an overview to the tribunal of who she is and where she came from. She said she comes from humble beginnings and although she was regarded as a gifted child, she had to work on a farm as a child for a year as there was no money to send her to school. Her brother later paid for her schooling.

Judge Makhubele said before this complaint against her, she has never been investigated for anything. She was held in high esteem, she said.

She also expressed her unhappiness as being labelled in the media as “the arrogant judge running away from being held accountable.”

It is meanwhile expected that one of the questions which will be posed by the tribunal to Judge Makhubele and which is instrumental to this hearing, is whether she was paid by Prasa while she was sitting as a judge.

Her evidence is continuing.

Pretoria News

[email protected]