Yawning magistrate guilty
YAWNING shamelessly while presiding over civil matters and sending a disrespectful letter to her manager has landed a Pretoria magistrate in hot water.
Ndileka Ndamase has been found guilty of 11 counts of misconduct by the magistrates' commission.
The commission ruled that she did not conduct herself with dignity and was disrespectful to her seniors.
It said that a magistrate's life is as private as a "goldfish in a bowl" so magistrates must ensure they maintain the dignity required from them wherever they are and that a magistrate must strive to never lose his or her temper.
Ndamase had contravened the Magistrate's Act when she "yawned shamelessly in court" and "looked uninterested in the proceedings".
According to the lengthy judgment, Ndamase leaned forward on the bench with her one hand under her chin.
"She yawned with an open mouth without putting one hand in front of her mouth. The magistrate yawned continuously, was about to fall asleep and did not take note of what was happening," the document said.
Ndamase further contravened the Act when she wrote a letter to the chief magistrate in a tone that was "insulting, contemptuous, sarcastic and disrespectful to her senior".
The letter was written after she was asked to respond to allegations made against her by her colleagues in 2009.
Ndamase became a magistrate at the court in 1992 and presided over criminal court until the chief magistrate transferred her to the civil section.
When she was moved back to criminal court, Ndamase refused to assume her duties and instead threw the letter of her transfer at the magistrate's assistant.
In the same month she raised her voice when speaking to an administration officer at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court before throwing a letter in at her.
The commission found that Ndamase had ignored a lawful order by refusing to keep scheduled meetings with the senior manager.
According to Ndamase, she did not want to attend the meetings without legal representation as she was "tired of being harassed and humiliated" by the chief magistrate.
At the hearing, Ndamase denied some of the charges against her.
She claimed that there was racial discrimination against her.
Ndamase will argue in mitigation of sentence today.