Report of the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development on the Provisional Suspension from Office of Magistrate N E Ndamase, dated 17 November 2009:
The Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development, having considered the report on the provisional suspension from office of Magistrate N E Ndamase, an additional magistrate at Pretoria, pending the outcome of an investigation into her fitness to hold office as a magistrate, as required in terms of section 13(3)(a) of the Magistrates Act, 1993 (Act no 90 of 1993), reports as follows:
1. The Select Committee notes from the report tabled by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development that the Magistrates Commission resolved on 29 and 30 July to recommend that Ms NE Ndamase be provisionally suspended from office in terms of section 13(3)(a) of the Magistrates Act, 1993.
2. On 09 October 2009, the Magistrates Commission briefed the Select Committee on the contents of the report: The Commission decided to charge Ms Ndamase with misconduct in terms of Regulation 26(1) of the Regulations for Judicial Officers in Lower Courts, 1994. It is of the opinion that there is enough prima facie evidence to support the charge(s). There is an ongoing process to obtain further evidence. On 29 and 30 July 2009, the Commission resolved to recommend that Ms Ndamase be provisionally suspended, pending the outcome of the misconduct inquiry. The report and supporting documents give reasons for this recommendation.
3. In terms of section 13(3)(c) of the Magistrates Act, 1993, Parliament must, as soon as is reasonably possible, pass a resolution as to whether or not the provisional suspension of a magistrate is confirmed.
4. The Select Committee is of the view that the issues raised by this matter are complex, pointing to problems of transformation within the judicial system. It is not helpful to look solely at an individual’s conduct, while ignoring the broader context. Of particular concern to the Select Committee is the ‘gatekeeping’ role that language proficiency plays within the justice system, and the frustration this engenders. The Select Committee is aware that there are no ‘quickfix’ solutions but believes that much needs to be done, and urgently, to address this problem.
5. As part of its oversight function, the Select Committee intends to embark on regular visits to our courts to gain insight into the problems they grapple with daily. In the first quarter of 2010 the Select Committee will arrange to visit the Pretoria Magistrates Court.
6. The Select Committee also intends to engage more closely with the Magistrates Commission to better understand its role, as well as the systemic challenges facing our judicial system and possible solutions to these. It would be particularly interested in the Commission’s views on whether it has a mediatory or conciliatory role in matters such as these. It urges the Commission to explore this possibility in this particular matter.
7. Having considered the Commission’s report on the provisional suspension, the Select Committee recommends that the Council does not confirm the provisional suspension of Magistrate NE Ndamase.
Report to be considered.