Pretoria chief magistrate Desmond Nair provisionally suspended over Bosasa allegations

Pretoria chief magistrate Desmond Nair on November 15, 2010, in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Theana Breugem)

The minister of Justice Ronald Lamola says given the seriousness he has decided to provisionally suspend Nair with immediate effect, pending the outcome of an investigation.

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, has tabled a report in Parliament regarding the provisional suspension from office of Pretoria Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair, pending the outcome of an investigation into his fitness to hold office as a magistrate.

In a statement, the department of justice said the report tabled by the minister is in terms of 13(3)(b) of the Magistrates Act, Act 90 of 1993.

It is alleged that Bosasa did security upgrades at Nair’s home to the value of R200,000.

The department of justice said: “In terms of section 13(3)(b), the minister, on the advice of the Magistrates Commission, may provisionally suspend a magistrate from office, if the commission is satisfied that reliable evidence exists indicating that an allegation against that magistrate is of such a serious nature as to make it inappropriate for the magistrate to perform the functions of a magistrate whilst the allegation is being investigated and if an investigation has been instituted by the commission into the magistrate’s fitness to hold office.

“The report, which must also set out the reasons for the suspension, must be tabled in parliament by the minister within seven days of the suspension.

“Having conducted a preliminary investigation and having considered the preliminary investigation report, the commission resolved to charge Mr Nair with misconduct and a charge sheet, containing two counts of misconduct, was served in November last year.”

The department said the charges relate to allegations that Nair allegedly asked for, accepted, or received special favours or benefits from Bosasa “which may unduly influence him in the execution of his judicial duties or which may create the impression or perception as being intended to influence him in the performance of such duties”.

“Judicial officers must be held to the highest standards of scrutiny and their conduct must at all times be beyond reproach and be conduct befitting their office. Given the seriousness of the allegations, as well as the importance of the image of our judicial officers, our courts and the rule of law, I have decided to provisionally suspend Mr Nair with immediate effect, pending the outcome of the investigation,” Lamola said.

The department said in terms of the act, parliament must as soon as reasonably possible pass a resolution as to whether or not the provisional suspension is confirmed.

The allegations against Nair were first heard at the commission of inquiry into state capture chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

An employee of a Bosasa subsidiary, GTS (formerly known as Sondolo IT), Richard Le Roux, told the commission that the company’s special projects team did maintenance work on the properties of high-ranking officials.

These allegedly included Nair, Minister of Environmental Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe, former SAA chair Dudu Myeni, former department of correctional services commissioner Linda Mti and MP Vincent Smith, among others.

Le Roux told the commission that at Nair’s property, the team installed an electric fence, an IP CCTV system and an alarm system.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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