Acting Judge Leslie Weinkove said that when he said that Bromwell Street resident Charnell Commando was “just a kitchen assistant” and questioned what she knew about the City’s budget, he wasn’t being “antagonistic”.
Weinkove was speaking on Thursday in the Western Cape High Court where residents from Bromwell Street in Woodstock are resisting their eviction and applying for Weinkove’s recusal from the case. The Woodstock Hub is evicting the families and the City wants them to move to emergency housing in Wolwerivier, about 25km north of Cape Town’s CBD.
“I wanted to know on what basis she was an expert to face the information given by the defendant,” he said.
“You are saying that I should recuse myself because I dared to question her affidavit,” he said.
“It doesn’t seem to me I was in any way antagonistic to her.” He said that if this kind of conduct justifies recusal “then so be it”. The residents believe that Weinkove’s “offensive comments” demonstrated that “he may have been biased” against the residents.
On Thursday the residents’ application for the recusal of Weinkove was meant to be argued but was postponed until 3 and 4 August so that the parties could file additional affidavits in relation to new information that has emerged.
Both the City and the Woodstock Hub are opposing the application for Weinkove’s recusal.
During court, Weinkove wanted the application for recusal to be argued after the main matter was addressed, saying that Advocate Norman Arendse, for the residents, couldn’t “hijack these proceedings” with the recusal application.
After leaving the court for a few minutes to consult with the Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, Weinkove returned and agreed to begin with the recusal application.
Arendse said that they had recently received new information relating to the City’s apparent non-compliance with environmental authorisation for the construction of Wolwerivier.
“It appears the City is going to consult further with environmental affairs or apply for a deviation from the environmental issues,” said Arendse. He therefore wanted a postponement of the matter so that affidavits could be filed regarding the environmental authorisation.
Despite this, Arendse wanted to argue the recusal application today as he believed it was a standalone application and that if Weinkove was to be recused this should happen before a new application was submitted.
Weinkove refused, saying that he first needed to consider the new application as the complaint “permeated all the evidence in this matter”.
Arendse also mentioned a complaint made against Weinkove by attorney Tim Dunn. The complaint related to a case that Weinkove had presided over where he had questioned whether a gardener could understand words such as “paramount”, “locus standi” and “contemplated”.
“He’s alleged to be a gardener not a manager … I was amazed that a gardener knows the word contiguous” Weinkove had said in the case. Weinkove said that to say that he behaved improperly was “unfair and incorrect” as he was actually protecting the applicant who was a gardener. He said that it struck him that the applicant’s boss was using his employee to buy time and that the applicant didn’t understand anything about his boss’s multi-million rand business.
Arendse said that he would look into the matter and that he “may or may not” be persuaded to leave out Dunn’s complaint in their application for Weinkove’s recusal.
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