Magistrate arrested over hit list
Isabel Venter, Zoutnet
Date: 21 January 2011
Controversial regional magistrate Ronnie Rambau was arrested yet again over the past weekend, this time on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
Rambau’s arrest follows the discovery of a hit list compiled in his own handwriting. The list was handed to members of the police’s Counter Intelligence Unit for investigation.
Among the names on the hit list is that of district magistrate Chris Mthombeni, district magistrate Marie Viljoen, senior state prosecutor André Weideman, district prosecutor Reino Mostert, district prosecutor Hylke Janse van Rensburg, senior prosecutor Deon Laminga and three policemen, one a captain and two sergeants. All nine are involved in Rambau’s pending corruption case in Musina.
Two local witch doctors, who turned state witnesses, stated that they had already received payment from Rambau to murder the people on the list. The one told police that he had been paid R850 to kill all nine, while the other was paid R3 500.
The complainant in the case, whose identity is being withheld at this stage for her own safety, handed the list to the police, fearing the worst. In her police statement, she says Rambau repeatedly told her that his gun was not for shooting birds, but for shooting people who made him angry.
A warrant for Rambau’s arrest was issued on Friday (14th). Although he initially told police by telephone that he would hand himself over, police waited in vain outside his Louis Trichardt home. Rambau eluded police for several hours, but eventually surrendered himself at around 01:30 on Saturday.
Rambau was locked up in the police cells in Louis Trichardt, but once again his influence as regional magistrate apparently scored him some points with local police. According to information, senior police officials had to intervene once again over the past weekend when they found out that Rambau had received assistance in an attempt to bring a bail application in Giyani for his release, without even being charged yet. Rambau apparently has two brothers, one a warrant officer and the other a lieutenant-colonel, working at the Makhado SAPS.
Rambau was also allegedly allowed to receive and make phone calls from his cell phone while in the police’s holding cells in Louis Trichardt. He enjoyed similar privileges from the Musina police when he was arrested on corruption charges in February last year. Following his arrest last year, Rambau was found wandering around the police station, uncuffed and out of the police cells. Shortly after the discovery, and following senior police intervention, Rambau was moved to the police holding cells at Tshamutumbu, where he spent the weekend behind bars.
Rambau appeared in the Giyani Magistrate´s Court on Monday on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. His case was, however, postponed until Tuesday in order for a magistrate to be appointed from outside the Thohoyandou cluster to hear his bail application.
Rambau re-appeared in court on Tuesday, inside a packed court room, with some people standing in the hallway outside the court to follow proceedings. During cross-examination, Rambau did not deny writing the list. He claimed he had approached the witch doctors and given them the list, so that they could liberate the people on the list from the hatred they held against him [Rambau].
Rambau was granted R50 000 bail. As part of his bail conditions, he is restricted to Louis Trichardt and may only leave town to attend his corruption case in Musina. He also has to report to the Makhado Police Station twice a day and is to have no contact with the complainants in Giyani. His being confined to Louis Trichardt raised a number of eyebrows, as five of the people whose names appear on the hit list also live in Louis Trichardt.
The magistrate also ordered Rambau to hand in his passport and all weapons and ammunition in his possession, as well as, interestingly enough, those weapons the police do not know of. His case was postponed until April 25 for further investigation.
On April 7, Rambau will have to appear in the Musina Magistrate’s Court once again in connection with the corruption case against him. Rambau and his co-accused, district prosecutor Estene Willemse and Musina attorney T E Lubisi, are accused of receiving bribes to influence the outcome of several court cases.
Following Rambau´s arrest over the weekend, the Magistrate´s Commission stated that they would consider the new charges against Rambau as a matter of urgency. At present, Rambau has been suspended but still receives full pay.
"Rambau was suspended by the Justice Minister last year and he is not at the office," said Mr Danie Schoeman, secretary of the commission on Monday.
» » » » [Zoutnet]
'Sex pest' Magistrate fights on
A magistrate found guilty of misconduct for fondling and tickling colleagues, is fighting to keep his robes, launching several high court actions in a bid to save his job.
Oct 31, 2010 12:00 AM
PHILANI NOMBEMBE, TimesLive
Collen Dumani has been on suspension with full pay for the past year while the Magistrates' Commission investigated complaints that he sexually harassed two cleaners, a security official and a clerk at the Graaff-Reinet Magistrate's Court.
Dumani was the acting chief magistrate of the historic town when he is said to have committed the offences in December 2008 and January 2009.
An internal probe and disciplinary hearing, led by Pretoria chief magistrate Desmond Nair, ruled in March that Dumani was guilty of three cases of misconduct. He had pleaded not guilty.
But Dumani is not going without a fight. This week it emerged he has taken the Magistrates' Commission to the High Court in Grahamstown in a bid to overturn its findings.
Last week the high court also prohibited the minister of justice, Jeff Radebe, from sacking Dumani until his challenge against the commission had been decided.
The charge sheet presented at the disciplinary hearing stated that Dumani was guilty of misconduct for "stroking the cheek of ... a clerk ... with the back of your hand whilst she was seated in front of the personal computer in your office".
Then, on January 29 2009, Dumani is said to have "tickled the back of the neck of ... a cleaner employed at the said Court House, whilst she was cleaning your office".
The third charge related to an encounter the next day when, allegedly, "you stuck your hand between (a cleaner's ) breasts".
Dumani's lawyer suggested to the Magistrates' Commission that the women had conspired to lodge false complaints. The suggestion was rejected.
In representations to the commission, - which now form part of his court papers - Dumani said he was the first black man to be appointed as magistrate and head of the office at the Magistrate's Court in historic Graaff-Reinet in the Great Karoo.
He claimed that, prior to taking up his post "certain members of staff had expressed the view that the fact that Mr Dumani cannot speak Afrikaans is going to give rise to difficulties at the office".
The justice department confirmed Dumani remained suspended on full pay, but wouldn't comment further as the matter was sub judice.
» » » » [TimesLive]
Dodgy magistrates sacked
Fraud, theft, bribery, perjury and ogling porn during working hours are some of the charges laid against more than 20 magistrates.
Nov 10, 2010 10:07 PM
By THABO MOKONE, TimesLive
The Magistrates' Commission told the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice yesterday that it would throw the book at errant judicial officers. It has already fired two magistrates and suspended three. The conduct of 16 others is being investigated.
Two magistrates in Western Cape were fired for lying to the Magistrates' Commission, which oversees the conduct of judicial officers, and to the Law Society of SA, which regulates attorneys.
Their deceit led to them being found to be not "fit and proper" to remain in judicial office.
Andre Louw, a member of the ethics committee of the Magistrates' Commission, said the axed magistrates were Ashika Maharaj, of George, in the southern Cape, and Nathier Jassiem, of Mitchells Plain, Cape Town.
Maharaj, who faced eight charges of misconduct and was found guilty on five, had referred to the death of a man as "good riddance to bad rubbish" while presiding over a case involving a car accident, Louw said.
Maharaj allegedly defrauded clients while practising as an attorney before her appointment as a magistrate, he said.
Maharaj denied making the "good riddance to bad rubbish" remark in a written response to the charge, but confessed to lying about it during her disciplinary hearing.
"She conceded under cross-examination that she had lied. She said it is easier to lie on paper than in front of people. She is now being criminally charged with perjury," said Louw.
His colleague, Hans Meijer, told MPs that the commission had ruled that Maharaj was not fit and proper to hold office and had dismissed her.
Jassiem was exposed as moonlighting as an attorney while serving on the bench, and then lying about it to both the Magistrates' Commission and the Law Society of SA, Meijer said.
During the misconduct hearing, Jassiem claimed that he had been dealing only with estates and conveyancing, and that he was not "practising as an attorney". His explanation was rejected.
"You can't serve two masters," said Meijer. "If you can't make a career choice, we will do it for you.
"He lied. He misled both the law society and the commission. He's not a fit and proper person to hold the office of magistrate."
He said the Magistrates' Commission was investigating a further 19 cases of misconduct by judicial officers across the country, ranging from taking bribes to sexual harassment and presiding over trials while drunk.
The 19 cases include:
- A Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, magistrate has been suspended and is facing criminal charges after allegedly accepting a R5000 bribe after colluding with a prosecutor and a defence lawyer about the outcome of a criminal case;
- A magistrate in Cala, in Eastern Cape, is being investigated for submitting a claim for using his private vehicle for official work when he allegedly used a court car; and
- In North West, a magistrate in Lichtenburg is facing three charges of theft. He allegedly gave himself powers to adjudicate on any matter, including civil and labour cases.
A Magistrates' Commission member, Steve Swart, an MP for the African Christian Democratic Party, said: "I find these allegations almost unbelievable and shocking in the extreme for a judicial officer to have acted in such a way.
"If the allegations are true, he has no idea how to disburse justice and it's clear there is abuse of office," he said.
A magistrate at the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court is to return to work after being cleared of keeping explicit pornographic material on his office computer.
Meijer said the magistrate did not source the pornography but watched it repeatedly.
» » » » [TimesLive]
Cape magistrates on the wrong side of the law
Two sent down for lying
Nov 10, 2010 1:03 PM
By Thabo Mokone, TimesLive
Two Western Cape magistrates have been fired for offences including lying to authorities, MPs have been told.
The Magistrates’ Commission has fired two magistrates from the bench after finding them unfit to hold office as judicial officers.
Briefing parliament’s portfolio committee on justice about recent complaints against magistrates, members of the commission's ethics committee said both magistrates had lied to authorities.
Andre Louw told MPs that the commission had found that two magistrates, Ashika Maharaj from George in the Southern Cape and Nathier Jassiem from Mitchell’s Plain near Cape Town, were unfit to adjudicate over court cases.
Louw said Maharaj, who faced eight charges of misconduct and was found guilty on five, had said of a dead man “good riddance to bad rubbish” while presiding in a case involving a vehicle accident.
She had also defrauded clients while practising as an attorney prior to her appointment as a magistrate.
Louw said Maharaj had initially denied the “good riddance to bad rubbish” remark in a written response to the charge but later confessed to lying during the disciplinary hearing against her.
“She conceded under cross examination that she had lied. She said it is easier to lie on paper than in front of people. She is now being criminally charged with perjury,” said Louw.
His colleague, Hans Meijer, told MPs that the commission had ruled that she was not fit and proper to hold office and had dismissed her..
Meijer said Jassiem had continued to practise as an attorney after being appointed to the bench and had lied about it to the Magistrates’ Commission and the Law Society of South Africa.
Meijer said that during the misconduct hearing, Jassiem claimed he was only handling estates and conveyancing and that he was not actually "practising as an attorney". His explanation was rejected.
“You can’t serve two masters. If you can’t make a career choice, we will do it for you. He lied. He misled both the law society and the commission. He’s not a fit and proper person to hold the office of magistrate any longer” said Meijer.
Meijer said the Magistrates’ Commission was investigating a further 19 cases of misconduct by judicial officers across the country, ranging from taking bribes to sexual harassment and presiding in a court case while under the influence of alcohol.
» » » » [TimesLive]
Rogue magistrates in the dock
Loyiso Sidimba, City Press
Presiding over court cases while drunk, theft and sending explicit pornographic emails to colleagues are just some of the glaring cases of misconduct facing magistrates across South Africa.
This alleged misconduct was presented to Parliament by the Magistrates’ Commission after the alleged culprits had been provisionally suspended by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.
Magistrate Dawid Jacobs of Clocolan, Free State, as been accused of speaking in a disjointed manner and using strange and senseless language and incorrect and unfamiliar legal terminology, say reports presented to Parliament’s committee on security and constitutional development.
The Magistrates’ Commission concluded that he was “inebriated during the trial”.
Jacobs’s misconduct was reported to the commission by defence lawyers in cases he presided over.
Parliament must pass a resolution on whether or not his provisional suspension is confirmed, according to the Magistrates Act.
Parliament also ordered a review of Jacobs’s judgments over three years, including in criminal, family and civil law court cases.
The commission’s judicial quality assurance office identified no irregularities in Jacobs’s family and civil law cases, but found that he had imposed incompetent sentences on illegal immigrants convicted under the Immigration Act.
Jacobs fined Lesotho brothers Motlatsi and Anra Monyane R500 each (or 100 days in prison), when the prescribed maximum sentence was three months’ imprisonment.
The case is under review by the Free State High Court.
Even while under suspension in July, Jacobs was arrested for drunk driving and when he appeared in court then he was also not sober.
Pretoria magistrate Musa Chauke and his wife and son were sentenced to 12 months in prison in November 2007 for the theft of containers at Vitamine Laboratories in Midrand, Johannesburg.
Chauke’s subsequent appeal to the North Gauteng High Court succeeded, but his wife’s was dismissed.
The Magistrates’ Commission charged him on two counts of misconduct for sending emails containing “explicit pornographic material” from his workplace computer.
The commission recommended that Chauke not be suspended because “the nature and seriousness of the charge for which he was found guilty does not warrant provisional suspension”.
Lefa Maruwa, a Daveyton magistrate, was slapped with a fine of R5?000, which he paid, or 12 months’ imprisonment last November on 11 counts of fraud.
Maruwa is appealing against the conviction and the sentence.
He was found to have fraudulently endorsed court records to show that a prosecutor involved in a traffic offence was present in court and that he had no previous convictions, among other matters.
His inquiry has been postponed pending the outcome of his appeal.
Themba Masinga, an Umlazi, Durban, magistrate, allegedly threatened to kill his wife, assaulted her with a blunt axe and kicked her.
He faces charges of attempted murder and two of assault.
Masinga, who is represented by trade union Nehawu in his misconduct inquiry, is yet to appoint a legal representative.
Ermelo magistrate Wessel Prinsloo pleaded guilty on 10 charges of misconduct for phoning a former court employee and leaving vulgar messages on her voicemail.
Prinsloo escaped removal from office and his provisional suspension may be rescinded, but he was reprimanded by commission chair Judge Bernard Ngoepe.
Last year City Press reported that Graaff-Reinet magistrate Collen Dumani was accused of “putting his hand between a clerk of the court’s breasts, tickling a cleaner’s neck and stroking the cheeks of another cleaner and a (female) security guard”.
Dumani was found guilty on three of the four sexual harassment charges. and the commission is still to decide his fate.
» » » » [City Press]
Porn lover, SMS pest back in robes
November 13 2010 at 01:51pm
By Vivian Warby, IOL
A magistrate who trawled Internet porn sites on his work computer and another who sent foul SMSes to a female clerk are back on the bench after MPs gave the nod for their suspensions to be lifted this week.
Both magistrates had been suspended on full pay, pending investigation, for the past few months. And, while their suspensions had been relatively brief, MPs heard this week how some investigations into errant magistrates had taken as long as four years to complete.
Not only were the suspended magistrates paid in full, but stand-ins had to be found to prevent a backlog building up in their absence.
Other errant magistrates face charges ranging from being drunk on the bench, theft, intimidating members of the public, to perjury and fraud.
Though less than one percent of magistrates were investigated for serious crimes, the full pay they received while on suspension ran into millions, the magistrates commission, which investigates and makes recommendations on suspensions, told MPs.
But the commission said its hands were tied as the bulk of the cases were in criminal courts. Though it constantly approached the National Prosecuting Authority about postponements, it could not rush the cases. And it could not run its own investigations until the criminal cases had been finalised.
One MP suggested that provisionally suspended magistrates not be given full pay, but the commission said this could be seen as unconstitutional.
Both magistrates who had their suspensions lifted, one from Pretoria and one from Ermelo, had been cautioned and reprimanded, the committees heard.
The Pretoria magistrate was first officially suspended on full pay while facing a charge of theft. The magistrate, his wife and son were all found guilty and convicted of taking stolen goods, but on appeal the conviction was overturned, the committees heard.
He was, however, also investigated by the magistrates commission on an unrelated charge of retaining and forwarding pornographic material on and from an office computer.
In July the magistrate was found guilty of misconduct in respect of the porn charge and in that he had failed to act at all times “in a manner which upholds and promotes the good name, dignity and esteem of the office of magistrate and the administration of justice”.
Since the theft charge was no longer hanging over him and because the nature and seriousness of the charge of misconduct on which he was found guilty did not warrant provisional suspension, as it “did not impact upon his fitness to hold office”, he was reinstated by the portfolio committee this week on the recommendation of the commission.
The Ermelo magistrate, who was known to be “a very good magistrate” and is back on the bench, was investigated by the commission after a female clerk, employed at the magistrate’s office, made 10 complaints against him.
For about a month in 2008, the magistrate on 10 different occasions “conducted himself in an unbecoming and embarrassing manner” towards the clerk.
During investigations against him he called four witnesses in mitigation, saying he had been provoked into sending the SMSes to which the complaints related.
While the presiding officer said the magistrate’s misconduct was serious, “it did not justify a sanction of removal from office”.
He had been cautioned, reprimanded and had to write an apology to the clerk. The clerk had since been moved “at her own request to be closer to where her husband is working and living. Her transfer is not related to the incident”, said Meijer.
Two other magistrates were this week given the boot for their behaviour.
A woman magistrate, Ashika Maharaj, who had been on probation in George was found guilty of five charges against her relating to, among other things, lying under oath during the investigation against her, intimidating an estate agent over the phone and cashing a cheque at a casino, that bounced.
It was also alleged that Maharaj, when she was an attorney, won over R60 000 for a pensioner client, but held onto the pensioner’s money and only returned it when the Law Society got involved. It was alleged she told the pensioner that she “had a lot of clout” and that the pensioner would spend “the next three years in court fighting for the money”.
Maharaj was said to be a platinum member at a casino in George, where she had spent about R9 million over a few years.
Because she was such a good client the casino had allowed her to give it a cash cheque, which later bounced.
The misconduct inquiry against her started in March 2007, but the commission was only able to start leading evidence in August last year, and it was finalised this year. In this time she was on full pay.
Another magistrate, Nathier Jassiem, who was on the bench in Mitchells Plain in Cape Town and had unlawfully practised as an attorney and a magistrate simultaneously, was also removed from the bench this week. He had lied to the Law Society, saying he had permission to do both jobs. Jassiem was charged with misconduct last December and had been on full pay up to his removal this week.
Four cases in which magistrates have been provisionally suspended pending investigation include:
* A magistrate in the Lichtenburg area, facing a number of charges including three of theft. The case has been postponed to later this month. The commission is also investigating other charges, including that the magistrate allegedly tried to coerce an investigating officer to drop charges against an alleged stock thief.
* A magistrate from Polokwane has been provisionally suspended pending investigations into corruption. The magistrate was arrested in an undercover operation. It is alleged that he, a prosecutor, and an attorney, together arranged the outcome of a trial by predetermining the sentence for financial reward. The magistrate is out on R10 000 bail. The case first went to court in February. It has been postponed many times and has now been set for trial in March next year. The magistrate is on full pay. - Weekend Argus
» » » » [IOL]
Limpopo magistrate's naked body found
Apr 09 2008 09:35
Mail & Guardian
The naked body of a prominent Limpopo magistrate was found lying next to a used condom in a bush near Giyani, the Sowetan reported on Wednesday.
The body was identified as that of Giyani magistrate Nuel Maluleke (58), of Mphangane village near Giyani.
The body -- with stab wounds to the neck -- was discovered on Tuesday in the middle of the bush about a kilometre from the main road by a group of women, said the newspaper.
Maluleke's vehicle, a black Toyota Corolla bakkie, was allegedly also found near the body.
It is not known yet when Maluleke was killed.
Superintendent Mohale Ramatseba told the paper that the motive for the murder was not known and that investigations were continuing.
» » » » [Mail & Guardian]
Magistrate couldn't get enough [sex]
Apr 10, 2008, Sowetan
Alex Matlala and Victor Hlungwani
The magistrate whose naked body was found next to a used condom in a bush near Giyani, Limpopo, on Tuesday was involved in a similar incident last year, when he was found having sex with a woman in a car on the side of the road.
Sowetan learnt yesterday that the dead magistrate, Nuel Maluleke, 58, had 22 children, some of them born out of wedlock.
Meanwhile, police yesterday arrested a suspect - believed to be the husband of the woman Maluleke was allegedly bonking on Tuesday when he met his death.
The man, whose name is known to Sowetan but who cannot be identified until he pleads in court, was arrested at GaRamotshinyadi village in the Bolobedu area.
Maluleke's blood-covered body was found in bushes about 500m from the main road.
His wives, Maria Shirindza, the first wife, and Muthavini Ndengeza, said yesterday that most of Maluleke's 22 children had lived with him.
One of Maluleke's close friends, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday that Maluleke had left the magistrate's court early on Monday saying he had urgent personal matters to attend to.
The friend, who is also a magistrate, said Maluleke was later seen having lunch with one of his mistresses at a Giyani restaurant.
Maluleke's body was found the next day in bushes between Mphakani village and Ramotshinyadi village, about 20km away from the restaurant.
A used condom and his trousers were lying next to his body and his black Toyota sedan was parked a few metres away.
Maluleke was allegedly having sex with the woman when he was shot and killed.
The woman he was with on Tuesday has been called to the police station for questioning.
Tuesday's incident happened barely a year after Maluleke, a top magistrate at the Malamulele court, was found having sex with another woman in a car on the side of the road near the village.
The woman's husband, Daniel Chavhalala, was tipped-off and attacked Maluleke, who was injured and admitted to hospital.
A case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm was opened against Chavhalala but he died before the case could go to court.
Maluleke's sister, Gladys Chauke, declined to comment yesterday.
The suspect will appear in the Giyani magistrate's court today.
» » » » [Sowetan]
'Justice system not geared for graft'
By Carien du Plessis
Political Bureau, Cape Argus
Law enforcers and lower courts are not adequately trained to deal with graft, and many of them still don't know the proper definition of corruption, retired judge Willem Heath has told an anti-corruption summit.
Heath told representatives of trade unions, the SA Communist Party, the ANC and civil society in Johannesburg on Monday that the criminal justice system needed to be "thoroughly revamped" to deal with the scourge. "Many presiding officers in especially the lower courts are not equipped to understand the intricacies of corruption," he said.
He said police officials and prosecutors had to undergo thorough training in understanding, investigating and prosecuting corruption.
He added that, despite a general lack of understanding of what corruption entailed, many law enforcers were themselves corrupt. "Particularly disturbing is the theft and/or sale of police dockets, with indications that prosecutors, court interpreters and police officials are involved," he said.
Turning to the private sector, Heath said it was the "main instigator of corruption", and that the corrupt elements in this sector "remain wealthy and continue to do business".
SACP general secretary and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said the media should do more to expose the "large-scale corruption" that often occurs in the private sector, and which is labelled "white collar crime".
Dr Ivor Sarakinsky, of the School of Public Development Management at Wits University, said the decentralisation of power to lower government spheres "enhances corruption", and governance in such cases should be managed carefully to avoid this.
This article was originally published on page 5 of The Cape Argus on March 30, 2010
» » » » [IOL]
Is Hlophe fit to hold office?
Published in: Legalbrief Today
Date: Thu 11 October 2007
As a lawyer, I am tempted to engage in unemotional reasoning to reach a logical conclusion in this matter. I shall however refrain from doing so, as any such reasoning by a white South African regarding this extremely serious matter is likely to be attacked by my fellow black lawyers as being racist and in conflict with African values.
What I prefer to do is to appeal to my fellow black lawyers to seriously contemplate whether you think that Judge Hlophe is fit to hold office and whether he is the type of person that you would like to preside over an important matter impacting on your life? If you feel that he is fit to hold office, I would appreciate you sharing your reasoning with us, so that I can gain a better understanding of this matter. If you however feel he is not fit to hold office, I appeal to you to share your views with us and to take appropriate action, even if it jeopardises your career prospects and threatens African values. You may want to consider the content of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004 while contemplating your position in this matter.
Look forward to your views on the matter.
» » » » [LegalBrief] [LegalBrief: Hlope Debate][Legal Brief: Hlope Saga]