Tribunal rejects postponement of Judge Makhubele hearing

Hearings will resume whether or not Makhubele has legal representation, tribunal rules

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The Judicial Conduct Tribunal denied a request for postponement of the hearings by Judge Nana Makhubele, ruling the tribunal shall continue on Wednesday. Archive photo: Masego Mafata

An attempt to postpone the Judicial Conduct Committee’s hearings into allegations of misconduct against judge and former PRASA board chairperson Nana Makhubele, was denied on Monday.

The tribunal into Makhubele’s conduct was established in 2021 after #UniteBehind lodged a complaint against her in 2019, in relation to her continuing to chair the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) board after being appointed as a high court judge.

The hearings have been delayed several times, most recently because of a dispute over Makhubele’s legal fees, amounting to more than R3-million, which is to be paid from the public purse.

While chair of the PRASA board, Makhubele was appointed as a judge in the North Gauteng High Court. #UniteBehind alleges she remained board chair after being appointed as a judge, which they argue amounts to a breach of the judicial code of conduct.

Makhubele was also implicated by the State Capture Commission, having allegedly used her influence at PRASA to further the interests of corruption-linked company Siyaya. She was also accused of side-lining PRASA’s legal team and was instrumental in disbanding PRASA’s panel of attorneys investigating corruption at the agency.

Advocate Vincent Maleka, who had previously represented Makhubele at the tribunal, on Monday said he was only told by the State Attorney on Friday that the dispute over legal fees had been resolved and he should resume his representation of Makhubele.

Maleka argued he did not have sufficient time since Friday to meet with Makhubele and prepare for the hearings, nor did he have availability this week. He said he would be available at the end of February and requested a postponement until then.

It emerged that the State Attorney had not yet paid Makhubele’s lawyers for the work done thus far. However, Maleka said the lawyers had paid income tax on the basis of the invoices to the State Attorney, and VAT amounts had been paid over to revenue services.

“We have subsidised the state for the work we have done,” claimed Maleka.

In his ruling, tribunal chairperson Judge President Achmat Jappie said that when the tribunal last adjourned, it was agreed it would resume on 22 January whether or not Makhubele had legal representation.

Jappie set the resumption date for Wednesday, giving Makhubele a chance to “sort out her position”. It was unclear whether Maleka would continue to represent her.

TOPICS:  Judge Makhubele Judicial Conduct Tribunal PRASALeaks

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