The Judicial Conduct Tribunal (JCT) adjudicated in AfriForum’s favour that Judge Nkola Motata made himself guilty of racist misconduct during an incident in January 2007 where the Judge drove into the wall of a dwelling in Johannesburg whilst under the influence of alcohol and afterwards made racist remarks about white people on the scene. The JCT also found that Motata displayed a lack of integrity in the way in which he allowed his legal team during the drunken driving court case against him to argue that he wasn’t under the influence of alcohol, while he was indeed under the influence.
The JCT – which was appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to investigate the various charges that were at that time brought against Motata by AfriForum and Adv. G.C. Pretorius SC – also recommends that the JSC starts the process in terms of Section 177(1)(a) of the Constitution to fire Motata as a Judge. The date on which the JSC will consider the JCT’s finding is not yet established.
According to Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, the JCT’s finding is not only a victory for AfriForum, but for everyone who believes that prominent figures in society cannot be allowed to get away with racist remarks simply because of their position. “Should the JSC accept the JCT’s recommendation and start the process to fire Motata, it will make history, seeing as it will be the first time that a Judge is removed from his post due to misconduct.”
Kriel pointed to the fact that the findings and recommendations of the JCT will now bring the JSC and Parliament before a big test. According to Kriel, it is no secret that there are representatives like Julius Malema on the JSC who think that it is acceptable to make racist remarks about white people. “If the JSC protects Motata despite the JCT’s finding, it will be a serious setback for the JSC’s integrity,” says Kriel. He furthermore argues that should the JSC in fact decide to act against Motata’s anti-white racism, the matter will be referred to Parliament which will need to decide with a two-thirds majority whether to ultimately fire Motata. “Members of Parliament will thus also be tested regarding whether they find anti-white racism acceptable,” says Kriel.
Background regarding the case
In a sound recording which Richard Baird (owner of the house where the accident took place) made of the incident in January 2007 it can be heard that Motata says, among other things, that it “was the white man’s country, but it is not anymore” and “no white man will criticise me”. Motata also asked the following to members of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) who tried to calm him: “Why do you stand behind the white man?” Motata also threatened a member of the JMPD who arrested him by saying: “You will regret this.” During Motata’s conviction of drunken driving in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court, the Magistrate indicated in his judgement that the sound recording was accepted by the Court as evidence and that Motata indeed uttered racial slurs.