Testimony of suspended judge, witnesses now behind closed doors

Testimony of suspended judge, witnesses now behind closed doors. Picture: File

Testimony of suspended judge, witnesses now behind closed doors. Picture: File

Published Jan 30, 2024


The tribunal hearing against suspended Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, Judge Nomonde Mngibisa-Thusi will be closed to the media and the public when she and her witnesses give evidence.

Yesterday morning, Judge Mngibisa-Thusi, through her legal team, applied for the entire tribunal hearing to be conducted with only the interested parties present.

This excluded the media and the public. The chairperson of the tribunal granted her application, as at that stage there were no applications for the tribunal to be open to all.

The judge ordered that all parties not directly connected to the hearing to leave the room.

Following applications later in the day by the SABC and EWN for access to the tribunal hearings, the chairperson ruled that the media could attend the hearing at the tribunal or online, with the exception of Judge Mngibisa-Thusi's testimony and that of her witnesses. Judge Mngibisa-Thusi and her witnesses were due to give evidence today.

The Office of the Chief Justice, in terms of the first ruling, had discontinued its life streaming.

This followed an application yesterday by the head of her legal team, Judge Gcina Malindi, for the judge to have the proceedings conducted without the media and members of the public.

Judge Malindi told Justice Chris Jafta, the tribunal president, that Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi’s ability to conduct her case in open court will be compromised.

It is understood that the judge will present medical evidence in relation to her defence for not delivering judgments on time.

Judge Malindi and former national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams, during an earlier session said they needed a postponement as they still had to obtain reports from two medical practitioners whose evidence they wanted to present to the tribunal.

In her earlier representations before the Judicial Service Commission she said she was battling with health and personal issues.

Yesterday’s request to have the proceedings conducted behind closed doors was not opposed by evidence leader Adrian Mopp.

Judge Jafta, in granting the request, ordered that only the parties closely connected to the case may attend the hearing. This included the witnesses, their legal representatives and Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, who levelled the complaints against Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi.

Judge Jafta warned the media that they may not attend or report on any of the procedures before the tribunal this week. He said if anyone contravened his court order, it could result in a criminal charge against them.

The judge made it clear that the only manner in which his order can be reconsidered is if anyone, including the media, launched an application to be present during the hearing and the matter is considered together with the office of the Chief Justice.

Judge Jafta said the JSC Act did prescribe that these types of tribunal hearings are closed to the public, unless the president of the tribunal declared it in the interest of justice and the public to have the hearing held in open court.

He, however, amended this ruling later in the day following the application by the two media houses. The live streaming was once again opened. But Judge Jafta late yesterday afternoon warned that his ruling stood in place, as Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi and her witnesses were due to take the stand on Tuesday. The hearing will thus then be closed for the media.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, who launched the complaint against her for delivering late judgments, yesterday completed his evidence.

Suspended Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, Judge Nana Makhubele’s hearing before the Judicial Conduct Tribunal into a misconduct complaint against her, has meanwhile up to now proceeded with the media and public allowed to attend the proceedings.

She took the stand last week 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.

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.

The matter against her stood down on Friday for about a week, when she is expected to continue with her evidence.

She testified before the tribunal last week that she was not chairperson of Prasa while being a judge. She said she had already resigned when she took up office as a judge.

Pretoria News

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