'Remove him from the bench'

JUDGE Nkola Motata has to win an appeal against his drunk driving conviction or lose his position as a judge.

JUDGE Nkola Motata has to win an appeal against his drunk driving conviction or lose his position as a judge.

According to the law one cannot practise as a judge if you have a criminal record.

Motata was found guilty of drunk driving in the Johannesburg magistrate's court yesterday. Legal experts said it was up to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to decide Motata's fate.

A magistrate, who refused to be named, said the JSC could initiate an investigation against Motata and would not necessarily have to wait for someone to lay a complaint.

Attorney Tumi Mokoena said he does not see the guilty verdict stopping Motata from practising as a judge.

"He does have a criminal record but it is up to the judicial body to come to a decision on whether he should continue to practise or not," Mokoena said.

He also said it was very likely that Motata could get a fine or suspended sentence and not imprisonment.

Another complaint came from AfriForum. The organisation said it would ask the JSC to take steps against Motata.

AfriForum had submitted a complaint against Motata with the JSC in 2008 while the trial was continuing in the Johannesburg magistrate's court. The JSC indicated then that the complaint would be held back to await the outcome of the court case.

Kallie Kriel of AfriForum said there was no reason why disciplinary action should not follow urgently now that the "allegations of racism and drunk driving" against Motata have withstood the test of the court.

"Any judge who makes himself guilty of racist conduct, as Motata according to the audio recording seems to have done, has no right to be a judge," Kriel said.

The National Prosecuting Authority was pleased with the judgement, said acting spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga. "Justice was not only done, but manifestly seen to be done," he said.

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