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Court Gavel
NCOP backs decision to suspend Chief Magistrate Nair
2 June 2020, 6:35 PM

The National Council of Provinces has approved the recommendation that Pretoria Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair be provisionally suspended.

The State Capture Commission had heard allegations that Nair benefited from security upgrades at his home that were paid for by the politically connected and now-defunct company, Bosasa.

The Select Committee on Justice brought the recommendation to the NCOP. The provisional suspension has also been approved by the National Assembly. The Magistrates Commission had asked Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to suspend Nair while his fitness to hold office was investigated.

Select Committee on Security and Justice Chair Shahidabibi Shaikh says, “On the 24th of February the Minster advised the commission to provisionally suspend Mr Nair with immediate effect, pending the finalisation of an inquiry of his fitness to hold office. And in terms of the Act has submitted a report for consideration at Parliament. Honourable chair having considered the report of the 25th of February 2020 by the Minster of Justice and Correctional Services on the provision of suspension of Mr D Nair pending the outcome of an investigation into his fitness to hold office as a Magistrate, the committee recommends that the National Council of Provinces confirms Mr D Nair’s provisional suspension from office of the Magistrate.”

Nair is accused of receiving R200 000 worth of security upgrades at his house. This was revealed at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry.

In the video below, Magistrates’ Commission’s Cassim Moosa discusses the matter with Tsepiso Makwetla:

Scales
Eastern Cape attorneys on the brink of financial ruin call for government’s intervention
2 June 2020, 3:32 PM

The legal fraternity in the Mthatha area, in the Eastern Cape, is feeling the pinch of the COVID-19 lockdown. A number of attorneys say they are on the verge of being kicked out of their rented premises due to non-payment by the Office of the State Attorney. They say the office is delaying their payments and are now calling for government’s intervention in fast-tracking the payment process.

The affected attorneys say the issue of non-payment is not new. Even before the lockdown, the attorneys have been experiencing this problem. Last year they took to the streets, raising their plight to the Justice Department. The deputy chairperson of the Transkei Attorneys Association, Sinawo Makangela, says this issue of non-payment is demoralising, especially to new attorneys who are now resorting to changing jobs.

“We are just in the dark as the members of the profession. We do not know what seems to be an issue because from where the authorities are, starting from the DG’s office, they do have our memorandum which is talking about the issues of payment, that the invoices must be paid within 30 days. So their response then, when we submitted the memorandum was that they will put systems in place to respond to that. Nothing has been happening ever since then. Our members have got the invoices that date back from 2018/2019. It gives them a hard time running their practices and it affects everyone in the office. Some of them have decided to close down their offices.”

The lawyers say they would go on for almost eight months to a year without payment. Makangela also decried the issue of sidelining female attorneys in the profession, mostly dominated by men. A fellow colleague, Advocate Nontle Cokoto, has described the situation they face as disheartening.

“The situation at the moment is very bad, very sad. Currently, as I am talking to you there’s no work from the government. In fact, there is but, it’s a minimum of it. Personally speaking, I have decided to actually leave the bar. I’m saying this because having made the decision to actually come and join the bar, it was a decision I voluntarily took, understanding all the suffering and the hardship that I will have to go through, had to undergo the training by the privilege and on the training you don’t get paid but you always have the hope that ultimately it will pay well, you will actually bear fruit out of that. And I’m telling you now, up to today there has been absolutely nothing that we benefitted from the government.”

The office of the Solicitor General says the last time they were made aware of the plight of Mthatha-based lawyers when a memorandum was handed to it in April last year about the non-payment of invoices.

The spokesperson for the Department of Justice Crispin Phiri says there are systems that were put in place to address this situation. He has also advised the affected attorneys to direct their queries to the Director of Operations.

DA wants Dlamini-Zuma investigated for contravening Ethics Code
1 June 2020, 9:41 PM

The DA plans to lodge a complaint with Parliament’s Joint Ethics and Members Interest against Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The party is accusing Dlamini-Zuma of misleading the public about the ban on the sale of cigarettes during the lockdown.

This is in relation to the Minister’s assertion that she had received more than 2 000 submissions supporting the ban of cigarette sales.

Dlamini-Zuma said this days after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lift in the ban on the sale of tobacco products.

Now DA Chief Whip, Natasha Mazonne, says Dlamini-Zuma’s cited statistics are different from those in court papers.

In court papers, Dlamini-Zuma allegedly said her department received 1 500 public submissions.

47% had nothing to do with cigarette smoking, while 29% supported the ban. 23% were in favour of the lift in the ban.

Mazonne says the Minister has a duty to ensure that she provides Parliament with correct information.

Members of Parliament can be fined or sanctioned, or both, if they are found to have contravened the Ethics Code.

The DA’s move comes as the ANC battles to thwart off criticism against Dlamini-Zuma.

The Minister has come under attack over her stance on the sale of tobacco products, which the ANC and government have been at pains to explain that it was a collective decision based on scientific evidence on the dangers of smoking in the face of the respiratory disease, COVID-19, for which there’s no cure yet.

In the video below, an analysis of attacks on the Minister:

Suspended Lepelle Water Board CEO accuses Sisulu of acting illegally
1 June 2020, 9:12 PM

The CEO of Lepelle Northern Water Board in Limpopo has accused Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu of acting illegally when she suspended him.

Phineas Legodi was suspended last week over allegations of maladministration and corruption. The entire board of the organisation has also been suspended.

Legodi says Sisulu does not have the power to suspend him.  He also claims she acted illegally by appointing a caretaker board last Thursday.

Legodi also blames the department for the failure of the multi-million rand water project in Giyani.

“I wish to state without equivocation. I’ve never been placed on any form of suspension or any manner of disruption of work. I am still in the active and unthwarted employ of Lepelle Northern Water as the substantive chief executive,” says Legodi.

He says he is taking the matter to court.

“Upon hearing the news of my suspension, I immediately instructed my attorneys off the record to engage the Minister and the department with a view to get clarity to the matter and clear confusion. Accordingly, a correspondence was sent to the two esteemed offices on the 7th of May 2020.”

Legodi insists that the suspended board will complete its term of office, ending in 2024.

The Lepelle Northern Water Board has been investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the Hawks as well as the office of the Auditor General for alleged maladministration and corruption.

The Water and Sanitation Department could not be reached for comment.

In the video below, SIU raids Lepelle Northern Water Board offices:

SA’s diesel stock inadequate: SAPIA
29 May 2020, 11:36 PM

The South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) says there is currently an inadequate stock of diesel in the country.

In a statement, the organisation says since the easing of lockdown restrictions, the opening of the economy has resulted in a more rapid recovery than expected.

“There has been a dramatic increase in demand for diesel. Stock rationing is been implemented to manage demand and to preserve stock. In addition, there has also been an opportunistic increase in demand for petrol however, it is manageable despite the strain on supply.”

SAPIA says unplanned shutdowns are also a contributing factor to the inadequate stocks.

It is however promising that things will normalise on Monday as both refineries in Durban are currently starting up and on spec production is expected this weekend.

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