Speech on the recommendation for the removal from office of Judge NJ Motata in terms of section 177(1) of Constitution, 1996
Speech by ACDP MP, Steve Swart

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

ACDP supports recommendation to remove from office Judge NJ Motata

Feb 21, 2024

House Chair

Whilst the highest standards are expected of a Judge, failure to meet those standards will not of itself be enough to justify the removal of a Judge. So important is the judicial independence, that the removal of a Judge can only be justified when the shortcomings of the Judge are so serious as to destroy confidence in the Judge’s ability to properly perform all the judicial functions.

The ACDP believes this is a very high bar that is set and that this bar has been attained in this case, and that particularly when one considers what the Supreme Court of Appeal said. It stated: 

“Public confidence in and respect for the Judiciary are essential to an effective judicial system and ultimately to democracy and founding on the rule of law. A fair-minded and dispassionate observer is bound to conclude that Judge Motata cannot properly discharge his functions.”

Now, the Hon. Magwanishe read, at length, of the conduct that was committed that night and that conduct was set out in this judgement, in which the Judge said:

“The conduct I’ve been at pains to describe is of such a gravity as to warrant a finding that Judge Motata be removed from office. There’s no alternative measure to removal that will be sufficient to restore public confidence in the Judiciary.”

And I think that is very significant. It relates to the integrity of the Judiciary and what we all witnessed that night, and it is a sad fact that it has taken so long to reach this point. 

So, the ACDP agrees with the Supreme Court findings, it agrees the deliberations that took place at length in the Portfolio Committee, and agrees and supports this report. But what is also very significant that we as Parliament need bear in mind, is that both the majority report and the minority report also had quite a lot to say about the conduct of the Judicial Service Commission as well in this whole matter. For example, the minority judgement in the SCA says:

“It was disconcerting to witness a respected body like the JSC comprised of judges and legal practitioners from both the Bar and the Side Bar, and law professors being found wanting in procedural matters pertaining of their own institution.”

So, these are issues we need to look at and I trust that the Judicial Services Commission will also look at this judgement and improve its mechanism.

The ACDP supports this report.

I thank you.

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