North Gauteng deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba on Wednesday faced tough questions over the sealing of the CR17 bank statements in his interview for the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
The first question came from EFF leader Julius Malema who asked judge Ledwaba about the court procedure to seal the financial records of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2017 ANC president campaign. The EFF leader is part of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) panel interviewing judges for the SCA.
He argued that the judge agreed to keep the documents from the public eye without first hearing the application from parties involved in the matter.
“Are you not supposed to make an application for such documents to be sealed so that when there is a counter [argument] it can also be made in a public court to argue why those documents should not be sealed?” Malema said.
In response, Ledwaba said there was an issue whether the financial records should remain sealed from the public or not. He said the documents were sealed due to a management meeting.
“I called the parties to understand exactly what the issue is. And the issue was those documents should remain sealed and I told the parties since the documents are sealed, there an issue relating to the documents [and] I’ll facilitate that this matter should go to court so that the court should make a ruling,” Ledwaba said.
“It was a management meeting before me, it was not a court order that I made. It was just a direction that I gave that this is how the matter should proceed so that the court can hear the matter to get the version of all the parties. The allegation that there were interests of other parties who were involved, those parties were not before me so that they could also get an opportunity to put their version before the court.”
In August 2019, the high court sealed the financial records of Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign following a request by his legal team. Last month, judgment was reserved in the matter after the EFF lodged an application in the Pretoria high court in a bid to make them public.
SCA judge president Mandisa Maya asked Ledwaba whether he was a corrupt judge following recent unsubstantiated claims by politicians that some judges have been taking bribes.
“No, president,” said Ledwaba in response.
In a statement in February, former president Jacob Zuma referred to the CR17 financial records, claiming there were judges “who have assisted the incumbent president to hide from society what on the face of it seem to be bribes obtained to win an internal ANC election”.