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Zondo, Mlambo dismantle fake judicial corruption accusations, urge public to 'protect judges'


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Zondo, Mlambo dismantle fake judicial corruption accusations, urge public to 'protect judges'

Image of Raymond Zondo
Chief Justice Raymond Zondo

6th December 2023

By: News24Wire


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It didn't take long for Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to realise that a recently released "intelligence report" on alleged judicial corruption was not genuine, and he has now revealed that he was "disappointed" that it was then spread so easily.

While the report's footnotes confirmed it was written by Aids denialist Advocate Anthony Brink, who has tried and failed to challenge the lawfulness of the Legal Aid board's decision not to hire him well over a decade ago, United Democratic Movement (UDM) MP Bantu Holomisa appeared convinced it was a real document when he went public with his demand that it be investigated by Parliament.


Holomisa's post on X (formerly Twitter) about that demand was then retweeted by ousted Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane – and an anonymous X post making false accusations of corruption against Zondo and Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, based on Brink's fake report, was reposted by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.

This was despite the fact that the report was self-evidently not a genuine intelligence document.


"It didn't take me long when I read that report to see that it certainly was not from within the intelligence," Zondo told a media conference, following the opening session of the 2023 Judges Conference in Sun City, on Tuesday.

"Intelligence people never reveal their sources and that report revealed its source … So, I would have thought that is one of the things that could have been picked up," he added, in response to questions from News24.

"One wishes that people would be circumspect and would not rush to circulate reports like that."

In response to questions by News24 about Brink's report, Mlambo said he had been the Legal Aid chairperson at the time that the advocate was not hired by the organisation, which provides legal services to people who cannot afford lawyers.

Mlambo suggested that this was the basis of Brink's continued corruption accusations against him.

"I was not involved in that process in whatever manner. But, from that day onwards to date, he continues to accuse me. He has even created a website that hurls insults at me and any other judge who finds against him. He brought a case to the labour court, he lost it. But he hasn't stopped," he said.

Mlambo repeatedly stressed that, in relation to the Brink report and many other instances where judges were facing sustained misinformation attacks, the judiciary needed to be protected by the legal community.

"We need to be protected. It would be untidy for us to get engaged in this blow-by-blow fight … and [to institute] legal proceedings against these people because it gives those allegations wind they don't deserve," he said.

The judge president stressed that these kinds of attacks on judges posed "a real threat to the independence of the judiciary".

According to Mlambo: "I come from a past where the legal profession, in its formations, was always on hand to protect the judiciary when things like this happen. And that kind of intervention by the legal profession ... has receded and I don't know why it has happened…

"I would hope that the legal profession, which fits into the judiciary, would go back to basics and continue what they used to do in the past, to take up the cudgels."

Mlambo said it would be "very untidy" for judges to defend themselves against the attacks being launched against them "when they could eventually end up in our courts".

This was why people "outside the decision-making processes" are best placed to defend the judiciary, he said.

He made these comments shortly after Justice Minister Ronald Lamola's spokesperson Chrispin Phiri issued a three-page statement slamming a Daily Maverick report which suggested that President Cyril Ramaphosa's medical discharge of the judge presiding over litigation against former deputy president David Mabuza was a deliberate attempt to delay the case.

According to the statement, Ramaphosa's discharge of Judge Cassim Sardiwalla followed a request, made by Sardiwalla, to be medically boarded due to alleged medical incapacity.

"Having considered the documents and the medical reports, the president was satisfied that all the jurisdictional requirements were met for the medical boarding of Judge Sardiwalla. He then signed the minute discharging Judge Sardiwalla with effect from 24 July 2023.

"Neither the president nor the minister of justice and correctional services were made aware that Judge Sardiwalla was presiding in the matter involving former deputy president Mabuza. To link the president to discharging Judge Sardiwalla from active service for any other reason except his medical condition and write about [it] without any facts to support such a sensational claim is a rhetorical strategy which has the hallmarks of disinformation. To further create an impression that the president would discharge a judge from active service on medical grounds for flimsy reasons is an insult to our judges," Phiri said.

Mlambo and his deputy, Aubrey Ledwaba, who had both met with Sardiwalla about his fitness to serve as a judge, have both strongly denied that there was anything untoward about his discharge.

"We had been getting reports … that during those proceedings he was handling, things were not going well. They would sit for less than two hours some days and not because of any of the parties, but because of him, which is why we were imploring him to come back to the division," he said.

"I said 'if you're unwell then we cannot force you to continue working, but we need medical substantiation for your health situation' and we got it."

Sardiwalla later told Mlambo and Ledwaba that "he does not see his way clear to finishing this matter" because of, among other issues, his "concentration span", Mlambo said.

The judge told his colleagues that "he was not going to be able to do justice" to the case.

"That situation is beyond my hands," Mlambo said.

"Anyone who wants to accuse me of being part of some stratagem to influence the outcome of this matter has not considered these facts and I know that the legal professionals who are involved in these matters were given a full briefing..."

In response to Zondo's comments about the threats of violence that judges were facing, Mlambo confirmed that then Gauteng High Court Judge Elias Matojane was the target of particularly vicious threats after he ruled that the medical parole granted to former president Jacob Zuma was unlawful and ordered that Zuma should return to jail.

"It took a lot from me to pacify him and to request that he not make a move, not leave his residence and to make sure that if he leaves, he must make sure that he is protected … He received personal threats," Mlambo said.

Zondo said Mlambo had alerted him to the threats made against Matojane.

"And, of course, apart from those judges of the Constitutional Court who were involved in the matter, threats were made against other judges, intimidation. There were all kinds of intimidatory messages that were ... spread even during the July unrest. Petrol bombs were shown to say certain houses would be burnt."

He said he had also been made aware that there were people "facing charges in KwaZulu-Natal, relating to the unrest, where one of the ... charges or allegations is that they conspired to kill me during the unrest".

"So, threats do get made and it's quite important that judges be protected and, apart from protection from the police, one of [the] protections is a public that has confidence in judges, that appreciates the role of judges in society and would stand up for them."


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