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Statement of the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services on the suspension of the Kwazulu-Natal Regional Court President

08 October 2018

After considering the advice of the Magistrates Commission, Minister Michael Masutha on Friday the 5th of October 2018 provisionally suspended Mr Eric Nzimande, the Regional Court President for Kwazulu-Natal Division from office.

In terms of section 13 (3) (a) of the Magistrates Act, 1993 (Act No 90 of 1993), the Minister, on the advice of the Magistrates Commission may provisionally suspend a magistrate from office if:

(i)     the Commission, after affording the magistrate a reasonable opportunity to be heard regarding the desirability of such provisional suspension, is satisfied that reliable evidence exists indicating that an allegation against that magistrate is of such a serious nature as to make it inappropriate for the magistrate to perform the functions of a magistrate while the allegation is being investigated; and

(ii)    an investigation has been instituted by the Commission into such magistrate’s fitness to hold office.”

It is alleged, amongst others, that Mr Nzimande on various occasions approached the Deputy Minister recommending the acting appointment of a number of attorneys for them to act in the Regional Courts within his Regional Division and, in turn, received numerous payments from these attorneys. It is also alleged that Mr Nzimande wrongfully victimized and or sexually harassed, a female acting Regional Magistrate.

The Minister delegated the appointment of acting magistrates to Deputy Minister John Jeffery and he, after consultation with the Judge President of the KZN High Courts, decided to appoint Ms Sharon Marks as acting Regional Court President for KZN with immediate effect.

The Minister trusts that the inquiry by the Magistrates Commission against Mr Nzimande will be concluded as soon as possible. It is of the utmost importance that the magistracy and its leadership must be beyond reproach.

Issued by the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
Mukoni Ratshitanga
Spokesperson for Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
066 479 6012