Judge Motata denies he made racist comments when he crashed his car
Johannesburg – Retired Judge Nkola Motata, who crashed his car into the wall of a home in Johannesburg in 2007, appeared before the judicial conduct tribunal on Wednesday, where he insisted that he had not made any racist comments at the accident scene.
The tribunal emanates from complaints lodged with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) into Motata's alleged conduct.
It is alleged that he used racist language at the scene of the crash in Hurlingham, Johannesburg in January 2007 and of breaching judicial ethics during his drunk driving trial, by allegedly using a defence he knew to be untrue.
The tribunal is chaired by KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Achmat Jappie, sitting with Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Nabitha Dambuza and attorney Alan Lax.
It is probing whether the statements Motata allegedly made can be classified as racist and whether the manner in which he conducted his defence during his trial can be seen as acts of gross misconduct.
During his evidence in chief, Judge Motata denied using racist language at the scene of the accident and denied being a racist.
'I was not in whatever way racist'
He admitted making remarks such as "No boer is going to undermine me… this used to be a white man’s land, even if they have more land… South Africa belongs to us. We are ruling South Africa."
"My opinion is that I am not and whatever I did, I was not in whatever way racist… I can only disagree with that opinion," Motata said.
Earlier, AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel, who laid the complaint, said the context of the words must be taken into account.
"The words 'Boer' and ‘even if they have big bodies’ [were] meant to depict, in an absolute sense, all white people, as being inherently racist, bullyish, of a specific physical appearance, [having] no regard for any other person, unsophisticated, unrepentant, the ever-oppressor, and unethical and immoral," Kriel said.
"Furthermore, with reference to the ‘Boers’, Judge Motata stated that ‘this is our world not the world of the Boers’, thereby, cementing his views that white people are not part of South Africa, not to be recognised as equal citizens, and should, therefore, be disregarded as a whole," he said.
The second complainant, advocate Gerrit Pretorius, said he was "horrified" by the "wastage of judicial resources" after he read the record for Motata’s drunk driving case as it amounted to more than 1 000 pages.
"Judge Motata, and I am sorry to say this is a stranger to the truth," Pretorius said.
'I did not consider myself drunk'
He argued Motata used a defence he knew to be untrue and it amounted to a breach of judicial ethics.
Motata denied instructing his attorney during his drunken driving trial that he was drunk at the time of the accident.
"I told my legal representatives that I did not consider myself drunk and how counsel would put it, I was not at liberty to say how counsel should formulate their questions," he said.
Motata, who was on special leave until his retirement last year, is still entitled to be paid retirement for life with the full benefits associated with his position.
Should the tribunal find his conduct unethical, he can be impeached. This means he could potentially lose his salary and the benefits associated with the position if the matter is sent to the National Assembly, where the decision must win by a two-thirds vote.
The hearings continue on Friday.