Pretoria - The Judicial Conduct Tribunal hearing scheduled for this week into the conduct of Gauteng High Court Judge Nana Makhubele has been postponed.
This is according to the judicial watchdog group, Judges Matter, that said the date of the hearing was yet to be confirmed.
Judge Makhubele, a former board chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), is facing a misconduct investigation by the tribunal, which could lead to her impeachment.
The investigation arises from a complaint filed by civil society organisation #UniteBehind.
It is claimed that the judge violated the separation of powers principle by being both a judge and chair of a state owned company.
Judge Makhubele has denied wrongdoing and said she had already resigned as Prasa chairperson when she was sworn in as a judge.
It is claimed that she improperly served as chairperson while she acted as a judge, and that she was at the time involved in the litigation between Siyaya Rail Solutions and Prasa.
The Judicial Conduct Committee has recommended that the complaint against her be referred to the Judicial Conduct Tribunal.
#UniteBehind complained that Judge Makhubele’s position as both the chair of Prasa as well as a judge was in breach of the separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive, as Prasa is a state run entity run by the Department of Transport.
Now-retired judge Neil Tuchten earlier, while he was still on the Bench, also complained about Judge Makhuble’s alleged conduct.
In a judgment delivered in 2018, in the case between Prasa and Siyaya Rail Solutions, Judge Tuchten commented that Judge Makhubele ought not to undertake any judicial duties until she cleared her name of the allegations against her.
Judge Makhubele subsequently lodged a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Committee against Judge Tuchten for “defamatory statements” made against her.
The complaint was, however, dismissed.
Judge Makhubele has been accused by former and current Prasa employees of favouring and interfering in the settling of legal matters between Prasa and Siyaya.
Prasa’s head of legal affairs, Martha Ngoye, and general manager for Prasa legal services, Fani Dingiswayo, last year testified before the Zondo Commission that when Judge Makhubele was appointed as chairperson of Prasa’s interim board, she became preoccupied with the legal matter involving Siyaya.
Siyaya had been in a legal dispute with Prasa in 2017 regarding services the company claimed it rendered but was not paid for.
Prasa disputed the funds and services provided by Siyaya at the time.
It was claimed that Judge Makhubele had shared confidential information with Siyaya’s legal team and had prevented Prasa’s legal team from being involved in the matter. The issue was later settled at an arbitration proceeding, where it was agreed that Prasa would pay Siyaya R59 million with interest added.
Judge Makhubele denied the claims when she appeared before the Zondo Commission, and said she was never preoccupied with settling Siyaya’s matters.