16 February 2023
The four-day Judicial Conduct Tribunal against Judge Tintswalo Annah Nana Makhubele, based on complaints from activist group #UniteBehind, will begin on 21 February.
Over three years have passed since the complaint against Gauteng High Court Judge Makhubele was lodged with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). The complaint relates to the judge’s conduct while she was chairperson of the interim board of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
The three-person tribunal will be led by retired former Judge President of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court Achmat Jappie, retired Judge Seun Moshidi, and advocate Noxolo Maduba-Silevu.
GroundUp previously reported on the difficulties that the tribunal has faced to get going.
#UniteBehind lodged a complaint with the JSC against Judge Makhubele in December 2018. It claimed that she is guilty of gross misconduct for her role in the controversial Siyaya matter, in which the judge is alleged to have circumvented PRASA’s legal department to settle with a corruption-accused service provider, and that she had violated the separation of powers principle by acting as chairperson of PRASA while also being a judge.
Siyaya DB, owned by Makhensa Mabunda (who set up the Swifambo “tall trains” deal), tried to claim a R56-million settlement from PRASA despite objections by PRASA’s legal department, headed by Martha Ngoye, that the company was possibly involved in corruption at the rail agency. But Judge Makhubele overruled the legal department, resulting in R56-million being seized from PRASA. Ngoye and her colleague, Fani Dingiswayo, were forced to go against the judge’s instructions, and in an urgent application convinced the court to reverse the transaction.
In March 2020, we reported that the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) had recommended that the complaint should be referred to the Judicial Conduct Tribunal for “investigation and determination”.
In October 2020, Judge Makhubele appeared at the Zondo Commission to explain and defend her conduct at PRASA. Later that month, Judge Makhubele was suspended by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In January 2022, retired Judge Fritz Brand, who had initially been appointed as tribunal president, chose to withdraw from proceedings despite admitting in correspondence that there were no good grounds to do so. Judge Makhubele had sent letters lobbying the JSC to have Brand recuse himself.