Judiciary says ‘links’ between Zuma’s ‘biased’ judge and Gordhan are ‘devoid of truth’

Judiciary says ‘links’ between Zuma’s ‘biased’ judge and Gordhan are ‘devoid of truth’

South Africa's embattled former president Jacob Zuma appears in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on corruption charges, in what would be the first time he faces trial for graft despite multiple accusations, in Pietermaritzburg on October 15, 2019. Picture: Michele Spatari / POOL / AFP

The KwaZulu-Natal Bench has hit back at public statements made against Judge Dhaya Pillay, saying they seek to intimidate judicial officers and interfere with the administration of justice in the division.

Pillay is the presiding judge in former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg and has recently made headlines after issuing a warrant of arrest for the former president.

She has received serious blowback because of the warrant, which has been stayed until May 6.

Earlier this month, Zuma’s son Edward said that Pillay is “biased” against his father because she is “good friends” with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and ANC national executive committee member Derek Hanekom and their families.

He made this allegation in an interview with news channel eNCA, News24 reported.

“Those who oppose the outcome of these proceedings have sought to challenge the court order using avenues other than those provided for in law. They have attacked Judge Pillay by making baseless allegations of corruption and working in cohorts with certain influential individuals to pursue political agendas against the former President, Mr Zuma.

“The Acting Judge President, Honourable Judge Madondo, has been assured by Judge Pillay that these allegations are baseless and devoid of truth. It falls entirely within the discretion of a Judge in a particular matter, depending on the circumstances and facts of such a matter, to issue the warrant of arrest outrightly or to stay it for a certain period,” chief director of court administration Nathi Mcube said in a statement.

He added that if a judge has not exercised his/her discretion judiciously, there are legal processes or procedures available instead of attacking the judiciary publicly, which has the effect of public confidence in the system.

He said that judges can’t be removed from a matter on the basis of unfounded allegations and innuendo and that a party must go through a court process if they want a judge to recuse themselves from a matter if they have sufficient grounds to make such a request.

“The KwaZulu-Natal Division of the High Court reaffirms its commitment to the principles of independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and the effectiveness of the courts.

“The Judiciary further reaffirms its commitment to the doctrine of separation of powers – provided for in the Constitution – which vests the legislative autonomy in the Legislature, the executive autonomy in the Executive, and the judicial authority in the courts,” the statement further read.

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