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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Senzo Meyiwa trial judge Tshifhiwa Maumela one of two under fire for delayed judgments

If a tribunal finds that the judges failed to deliver judgments, it could 'indicate incapacity, gross incompetence or gross misconduct'.

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has called upon President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend two judges, one being Tshifhiwa Maumela, who is presiding over the Senzo Meyiwa trial.

Pending an outcome of a tribunal inquiry, the JSC has recommended that judges Tshifhiwa Maumela and Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi be suspended for their failure to deliver numerous reserved judgments.

JSC calls for suspension of Judge Maumela

Judge Maumela is currently presiding over the high-profile and sensational murder trial of the 27-year-old soccer star Senzo Meyiwa. The trial started in April 2022 and is set to resume next Tuesday.

The former Bafana Bafana captain and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper was gunned down in an alleged botched robbery on 26 October 2014 at the house of Kelly Khumalo’s mother in Vosloorus.

Khumalo is a well-known South African actress and singer.

ALSO READ: Khune shares fond Soweto derby memories with Senzo Meyiwa

‘Incapacity, gross incompetence or gross misconduct’

If a tribunal requested by the JSC finds that the two judges have failed to deliver judgments, it “will prima facie [on the face of it] indicate incapacity, gross incompetence or gross misconduct on the part of the judges, taking into account the extent of the delay and the prejudice suffered by the parties”, the JSC said in a statement.

“The JSC has decided to request that the chief justice appoint a Judicial Conduct Tribunal to consider the complaints.

“Due to the seriousness of the complaints, the JSC has also decided to advise the president it is desirable that judges Maumela and Mngqibisa-Thusi be placed on suspension pending the outcome of the tribunal processes with certain conditions, including that the judges must, during the period of suspension, finalise all matters presently before them.”

Judgment 26 months overdue

According to a GroundUp report in October 2022, Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi was reported to the JSC for his failure to deliver judgment in a matter after 26 months.

The Gauteng judge’s judgment on a dispute between the Department of Military Veterans and a health services company was heard in the Pretoria High Court on 8 and 9 February 2021. Judgment was reserved on 21 February 2021.

The ruling in this vital court matter is still outstanding.

Judge President of the Gauteng High Court Dunstan Mlambo lodged a complaint with the JSC regarding this matter “and a number of other judgments reserved for long periods”.

According to a report by the South African judiciary to the Chief Justice at the end of December 2021, there were 156 reserved judgments outstanding for longer than six months. Overall there were 830 reserved judgments, with the longest outstanding one dating back to 12 December 2012.

ALSO READ: JSC recommends Justice Mahube Molemela for SCA president

Senzo Meyiwa trial latest: Bail application and delays

JSC senzo meyiwa judge judges suspension
Former Bafana Bafana captain and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa’s murder trial will resume on Tuesday 2 May 2023. Photo: Anesh Debiky/ Gallo Images

The Pretoria High Court is expected to deliver judgment on the bail application of one of the suspects in the Senzo Meyiwa trial this morning (28 April).

Bongani Ntanzi is one of five suspects who are facing charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, illegal possession of a firearm and the illegal possession of ammunition in connection with Meyiwa’s murder in 2014.

All five have pleaded not guilty.

Molangoane hopes for justice for his friend Senzo Meyiwa’s death
Football supporters display a placard calling for justice for Senzo Meyiwa. Photo: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

The murder trial has been marred by delays. In April 2022, controversial advocate Teffo Malesela, who represented four of the accused, was arrested during proceedings. He later withdrew as their counsel, then tried unsuccessfully to return.

Malesela has since been struck off the roll. 

ALSO READ: ‘I have a physician called Jesus’: Judge Maumela on Teffo’s witchcraft claims