Hon Deputy Chairperson, the select committee has received progress reports from the Magistrates Commission for its consideration in the Sixth Parliament. These reports arise from matters related to magistrates who had serious charges of misconduct against them and which had been dealt with by the Select Committee
on Security and Justice in the Fifth Parliament. The select committee has a statutory obligation and is empowered in terms of section 13 of the Magistrates Act to pass a resolution to either confirm a provisional suspension recommended by the Minister in terms of section 13(3)(c), or not to confirm such suspension in terms of section 13(3)(d) of the Magistrates Act of 1993. The Select committee may also pass a resolution to confirm the withholding of the remuneration of a magistrate who is on suspension in terms of section 13(4A)(b) of the Magistrates Act.
On 4 September 2019, the Select Committee on Security and Justice received a briefing from the Magistrates Commission on the progress of inquiries made against four magistrates. In terms of section 13(3)(f) of the Magistrate's Act of 1993, the Magistrates Commission must cause a report on the progress made in respect of inquiries against magistrates who have been provisionally suspended from office to be submitted to Parliament every three months. The Magistrate's Commission reported progress to the committee as follows: Magistrate J F Van Schalkwyk, the Chief Magistrate at Kempton Park, the matter was not finalised since 2013. The Magistrate's Commission charged Ms Van Schalkwyk with 18 counts of misconduct. The charges relate to gambling during office hours, borrowing money from subordinates that she failed to repay, making
misrepresentations to the Judge President of Gauteng during her stint as an acting judge, in that she handed down judgements which were not written by herself but by magistrates under her control and on occasion by an attorney. These judgments were furthermore prepared prior to hearing arguments of counsel.
Magistrate Van Schalkwyk had been suspended as a magistrate by the Minister on 4 June 2013. On 12 November 2013, Parliament confirmed Ms Van Schalkwyk's provisional suspension from office. On 23 May 2018, the select committee confirmed that Ms Van Schalkwyk's remuneration should be withheld in terms of section 13(4A)(b) of the Magistrates Act, 1993. The Magistrates Commission advised the committee that there were various delays with the finalisation of the matter due to the many court applications submitted by Magistrate Van Schalkwyk to delay the proceedings. The Magistrate's Commission is working towards a speedy conclusion of this matter.
On Magistrate E S Nzimande, the Regional Court President in KwaZulu- Natal, a charge sheet dated 31 August 2018, containing 50 counts of misconduct, was served on Mr Nzimande on O4 September 2018. Some of the charges relate to receiving monetary benefits for appointing persons to acting positions in the regional courts within his regional division as well as charges related to sexual harassment.
On 27 February 2019, the select committee had confirmed the provisional suspension of Magistrate Nzimande. The Magistrates Commission reported to the committee that a date for the hearing of Mr Nzimande's matter will be finalised soon.
On Magistrate L B Freeman, the Senior Magistrate at Mossel Bay, a charge sheet dated 17 November 2017, containing 24 counts of misconduct was served on Ms Freeman on 23 November 2017. Magistrate Freeman was dishonest in her application for the position which the commission found out at a later stage. The Magistrates Commission at the time was unable to conduct a proper vetting of Ms Freeman. The Magistrate's Commission advised the committee that the vetting procedure has since been improved. On 23 August 2018, the select committee confirmed the provisional suspension from the office of Magistrate Freeman in terms of section 13(3)(b) of the Magistrates Act, 1993. The commission advised the committee that the inquiry is postponed until 12 September 2019, for the presiding officer to impose a sanction.
On Magistrate M D Hinxa, the Chief Magistrate in Bloemfontein, the commission reported that there was an allegation of rape against Mr Hinxa. The complaint was submitted to the department on 2 November 2016 and referred to the commission for attention. The magistrate
had been charged with serious allegations of misconduct and on the
23 May 2018, the select committee confirmed his provisional suspension from office in terms of section 13(3)(b) of the Magistrates Act, 1993. The inquiry is postponed and the committee was advised that the hearing would continue from 30 September to 4 October 2019.
In the committee's interaction with the Magistrate's Commission, the committee noted the delays in the hearings of magistrates. The committee also requested the Magistrate's Commission to respond to a range of its concerns including some of the following: whether the lower courts had monitoring mechanisms in place to review the performance of magistrates and whether employee wellness programmes were in place.
The select committee noted, with concern, that it was shocking that crime is perpetrated by the very people entrusted with holding the office of a magistrate and encouraged the Magistrate's Commission to finalise the hearings as expeditiously as possible. The Select Committee on Security and Justice recommends that the National Council of Provinces adopts the report. I thank you. [Applause.]
Question put: That the Report be adopted.
In favour: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West, Western Cape.
Report accordingly adopted in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.