South Africa: Judge Makhubele Threatens Urgent Court Application to Postpone Conduct Inquiry

She must be ready to give evidence on Thursday, tribunal rules

The conduct inquiry into Judge Nana Makhubele heard yet another application on Wednesday to postpone proceedings. The tribunal had planned to hear evidence from Makhubele this week, but Makhubele claimed she had not had sufficient time to prepare.

After hearing arguments from Makhubele, the tribunal ruled that the hearing will proceed on Thursday at 11am to hear evidence by Makhubele. This is despite Makhubele indicating that she plans to launch an urgent application in the high court to postpone the hearings.

Makhubele is facing a complaint from #UniteBehind that she was board chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) while also a sitting judge. She has also been implicated in corruption at PRASA, allegedly using her influence to further the interests of private company Siyaya.

The tribunal had adjourned on Monday after Makhubele’s legal representatives said they had only been briefed last week and will only be available to represent Makhubele in February. Makhubele had asked for a postponement to the end of February, but this was denied.

The hearing is taking place in the Southern Sun Hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg. It is also being broadcast live.

At the hearing on Wednesday, Makhubele was represented by Advocate Matshepo Mobeng on behalf of the State Attorney. Mobeng told the tribunal that she has instructions to launch an urgent application in the high court to interdict the tribunal from proceeding until issues surrounding Makhubele’s legal representation are resolved.

The State Attorney has committed to paying Makhubele’s legal fees, amounting to more than R3-million, but Makhubele’s lawyers have been in a dispute with the State Attorney’s office over the payment. This has caused several delays.

Tribunal member Judge Stanley Moshidi expressed frustration with the continued delays. “This is not a criminal trial,” he told Makhubele. “We do not have to be adversarial. We do not have to take each other by surprise.”

Tribunal chair Judge President Achmat Jappie said that the tribunal would proceed regardless of the pending high court application, and asked Makhubele to decide whether or not she would like to present evidence.

Makhubele at first said that she needed guidance from a legal representative, but later said that she would be happy to proceed giving evidence without legal counsel. However, she said she would need until Friday to prepare herself.

After discussing with the other tribunal members, Jappie ruled that the matter would stand down until 11am on Thursday, 25 January.

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