The Judicial Conduct Committee has recommended a tribunal investigate two complaints against Western Cape High Court Judge Mushtak Parker, which if established, could indicate gross misconduct.
The decision was announced on Thursday after Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng referred the issue to the committee on 23 May for consideration and a recommendation on whether the complaints should be investigated and reported on by a tribunal.
In the decision, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the acting chairperson of the committee, said if the allegations in both complaints were proven, it would constitute gross misconduct on the part of Parker.
If proven, Parker’s conduct would also be seen as bringing the judiciary into disrepute.
As such, because of seriousness of the misconduct entailed in the complaints, the committee recommended to the Judicial Service Commission “these two complaints be investigated and reported upon by a tribunal” .
It was previously reported the first complaint related to an alleged assault on Parker by Judge President John Hlophe.
Several of his colleagues on the Bench charged he had given materially inconsistent accounts of the incident.
He allegedly conceded “soon after” the alleged assault, he had realised the events might not have unfolded the way he originally perceived.
In the decision, Zondo said “if the first complaint is established, it seems that it will mean that the respondent [Parker] has acted dishonestly in giving two contradictory and mutually exclusive versions about the incident that happened in his chambers between himself and Judge President Hlophe on 25 February 2019”.
“Our view can only be based on the facts presently before us. On these facts, if the first complaint is established, the position will be that the respondent has no explanation for giving these contradictory versions one of which has to be untrue,” he added.
“If the complaint is established, it will also mean that, when the respondent changed his version early in February 2020 and said that the judge president had not assaulted him, he did so knowing that there was an affidavit in Judge Wille’s custody in which he had said under oath that the judge president had assaulted him.”
The second complaint, laid by the Cape Bar Council, is also about Parker’s alleged dishonesty relating to not disclosing a trust deficit in the trust account of his law firm and not declaring this to the commission before he became a judge.
“With regard to the second complaint, we consider that, if it is established, it will prima facie indicate gross misconduct on the part of the respondent,” Zondo said.
“The existence of a trust deficit could indicate that the respondent and/or his partners misappropriated the funds of their trust creditors while he practiced as an attorney. If established, misappropriation of funds would be a serious conduct that may inter alia reflect negatively on the integrity of the respondent.
“It will also prima facie indicate that the respondent would have acted in breach of the rules of the law society over a long period by not disclosing to the law society when there was a trust deficit in the trust account of his law firm.”
Zondo added Parker’s failure to disclose that the trust account of his law firm had had a deficit for a long time while he was the managing director in his nomination questionnaire and in the interview before the commission, was extremely serious.