23 March 2020
The Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC), which is chaired by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, has recommended that a complaint against Judge Tintswalo Makhubele be referred to the Judicial Conduct Tribunal for “investigation and determination”.
The complaint was submitted by commuter activist group #UniteBehind in January 2019. The complaint stated that Makhubele engaged in “gross misconduct” while holding the position of Chairperson of the Interim Board of Control of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). This misconduct referred to Makhubele’s involvement and alleged disruption of the Siyaya litigation.
According to the complaint, Judge Makhubele also “improperly held a dual status” when she acted as a Judge of the High Court of Gauteng while also serving as Chairperson of PRASA. This violates the Code of Judicial Conduct’s requirement for the separation of powers.
The JCC’s ruling, written by the chief justice, states that in her response, Makhubele said “the JCC does not have jurisdiction to entertain this matter because what she allegedly did wrong would have taken place before she became a Judge”.
She was appointed a judge with effect from 1 January 2018, but Makhubele argued that “she had not yet taken the oath of office”. However the ruling does also state that Makhubele ultimately acknowledged that the JCC does have the jurisdiction to investigate the allegations made against her.
“Having considered the complaint and representations by #UniteBehind and the response by Judge Makhubele, we are satisfied that the allegations against her are very serious. If they were to be proven, it is likely that a finding of gross misconduct would be made,” read the JCC ruling.