Judge Nkola Motata’s expletive-laden outburst after he smashed through Richard Baird’s wall in Hurlingham, north of Johannesburg, in January 2007 was yesterday scrutinised in the Judicial Services Commission’s tribunal at the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) into Motata’s conduct at the time of his arrest and during his trial.
It was also a day filled with f- and k-bombs – words not often heard inside the hallowed halls of the OCJ and certainly not with the vehemence Motata whose small frame belies his booming voice repeated them with. Under questioning from KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Achmat Jappie, Motata clung to his assertion he had been “extremely provoked”, when he had been called a “f*cking k*ffir”. Yet Motata’s assertion was never put before court during his trial – of which the more than 1 000 page transcript was present and doesn’t appear in anyone’s voice or video recordings of the incident.
This was after he had seemingly perjured himself while testifying in his defence against charges of racism, gross misconduct and conduct inconsistent with the ethics of judicial office. Motata stated under oath yesterday his vehicles’ keys were taken by Baird, who said it was actually Lucky Melk – Baird’s tenant – who had taken them.
Oddly, Baird has not been called as a witness, despite being the only person in the room who could offer eyewitness testimony to Motata’s conduct that evening. Motata also repeatedly stated he did not believe he was drunk at the time of the incident. AfriForum’s Kallie Kriel testified yesterday how Motata’s words had caused distress and offence, and, in the context “boer” had been used, were racist. The second complainant, Advocate Gerrit Pretorius, took Motata to task over lying about being drunk, building his defence on his denial, and then accusing witnesses of manipulating evidence.
Convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in 2009 and fined R20 000, Motata has been away from work on special leave, believed to be drawing a salary which over the years amounted to an estimated R16 million.
It is understood Motata’s salary could have doubled after 15 years of service and at 65, if this case had not been hanging over him, Motata could have retired with a full pension. Motata turns 70 in February. He is believed to have retired in 2017, having spent only five of his 16 years at work.
Baird told The Citizen the fallout from taking Motata on had been immense. “I’ve lost my house, my farm, my car, my wife and my children as a result of this. I’m here to get compensation. This has been the biggest nightmare of my life,” Baird said.
He blamed Johannesburg Metro police officer Pauline Mashilela for changing her testimony under re-examination during the trial and alleging Baird had called Motata a “drunken k*ffir”, which Baird denied.
The matter is expected to continue tomorrow for final submissions and arguments.