The Justice Minister has now suspended Desmond Nair, the Pretoria chief magistrate, for now after he was accused of corruption earlier.
Nair handled, among other things, the bail application of former Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius.
Nair is the first juror suspected in the state hijacking investigation after Richard le Roux, an Bosasa IT expert, testified before the Zondo Commission that a security system was installed at the company’s expense at Nair’s home in Pretoria. A camera system, alarm rays and an electric fence were installed at a cost of R250 000, Le Roux told the Zondo Commission.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola then ordered an investigation into Nair’s suitability for his post.
In terms of legislation, Lamola may temporarily suspend a magistrate if the magistrate’s commission is satisfied that there is sufficient reliable evidence that the allegation is of such a serious nature that it would be inappropriate for the magistrate to continue his work.
A report on the suspension, which must also contain reasons for the suspension, must then be submitted to Parliament within seven days. Nair had already been informed in November that two charges of misconduct were being investigated. The report has now also been submitted to Parliament.
“Lawyers must adhere to the highest standards and their actions must always be above suspicion and appropriate for their office,” Lamola said.
“Given the seriousness of the allegations, as well as the importance of the application of our lawyers, our courts and the administration of justice, I have decided to suspend Mr. Nair immediately for the time being, pending the outcome of the investigation. “
Parliament must ratify or reject the provisional suspension as soon as possible.