Judge stands by decision

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

A high court judge says he stands by a decision that is blocking a possible appeal by the state against the acquittal of former Western Cape premier Peter Marais.

Judge Andre le Grange made the remark in an affidavit filed in reply to a bid by prosecutors to make him list the points of law that led to his finding Marais not guilty of corruption last year.

At the time, he was a regional magistrate.

The National Prosecuting Authority, which can appeal a criminal judgment only on questions of law, not on findings of fact, needs the document if it is to appeal.

It also wants to challenge Le Grange's finding that Marais' co-accused, former environment MEC David Malatsi, was not guilty on one of the two charges of corruption that he faced. In an application filed in the high court earlier this year, senior prosecutor Bruce Morrison said Le Grange had committed "a gross irregularity or clear illegality" by refusing to supply what is known in legal terminology as "a stated case".

Such a document would set out any questions of law Le Grange considered in arriving at his ruling, and his decisions on them.

But Le Grange has maintained his ruling was based only on facts, and repeated this contention in an affidavit, which he has now filed in reply to the high court application.

"I stand by this conclusion," he said. "I accept, however, that I may be incorrect in doing so and that this court may conclude, contrary to my opinion, that there are questions of law which ought to be certified.

"I accordingly do not take issue with the application for review . and abide by the decision of this court in that regard." But he did object to the NPA's request for a mandamus, or order that he complies with the high court ruling if it goes against him.

"I am a judicial officer, and a judge of the high court," he said.

"If this court concludes that . I erred . and that I should revisit my decision in this regard, I will respect its decision and certify any question of law which the high court holds I ought to have certified."