Justice minister Ronald Lamola on Wednesday tabled a report before parliament to provisionally suspend Pretoria chief magistrate Desmond Nair following two charges of misconduct.
The report was tabled in terms of 13(3)(b) of the Magistrates Act, pending the outcome of an investigation into his fitness to hold office as a magistrate.
Nair allegedly had R200,000 worth of security installed at his Pretoria home, including an electric fence, CCTV and alarm systems. This is according to Bosasa employee Richard le Roux in testimony before the Zondo commission of inquiry in 2019.
“Given the seriousness of the allegations, as well as the importance of the image of our judicial officers, our courts and the rule of law, I have decided to provisionally suspend Mr. Nair with immediate effect, pending the outcome of the investigation,” said Lamola.
The allegations made it “inappropriate for the magistrate to perform functions of a magistrate while the allegation is being investigated and if an investigation has been instituted by the commission into the magistrate’s fitness to hold office,” said a spokesperson for the ministry, Chrispin Phiri.
The department said Nair was charged with two counts of misconduct following a preliminary investigation and a report by the magistrate’s commission in November last year.
“The misconduct charges related to allegations that Mr. Nair allegedly asked for, or accepted/received, special favors or benefits from Bosasa which may unduly influence him in the execution of his judicial duties or which may create the impression or perception as being intended to influence him in the performance of such duties,” said Phiri.
Lamola said judicial officers needed to be held to the highest standards of scrutiny.
“Their conduct must at all times be beyond reproach and be conduct befitting their office.”
Following the tabling of the report — which set out the reasons for the suspension – Phiri said in terms of the act, parliament must pass a resolution as to whether the provisional suspension is confirmed. This could be done within seven days.