Drink sets back his lordship r1m

A JOHANNESBURGJohannesburg magistrate yesterday told North Gauteng high court Pretoria high court judge Nkola Motata that everybody was is equal before in front of the law when he fined him R20000 or 12 months imprisonment for drunken driving.

A JOHANNESBURGJohannesburg magistrate yesterday told North Gauteng high court Pretoria high court judge Nkola Motata that everybody was is equal before in front of the law when he fined him R20000 or 12 months imprisonment for drunken driving.

Magistrate Desmond Nair said: "Mr Motata is a first-time offender. He stumbled. That is a pity, and I take into account that he says he has learnt his lesson.

"Judges, magistrates ... they are all equal before the law, and the law shall be applied equally"

Motata, 62, was last week found guilty of drinking and driving.

He had crashed his Jaguar into the wall of Richard Baird's home in Hurlingham, Johannesburg, on the night of January 6 2007.

Motata had pleaded not guilty to charges of drunken driving, attempting to defeat the ends of justice and resisting arrest. He said he had drunk tea before the smash.

The charges of attempting to defeat the ends of justice and resisting arrest were withdrawn last week.

"While passing sentence, I did say that Mr Motata was intoxicated with alcohol. He is a high court judge but I will not penalise him for it. He is responsible for implementing the legislation. He should be leading by example," Nair said.

Motata's defence counsel Advocate Bantubonke Tokota SC had earlier pleaded with the court to give his client a "wholly suspended sentence because it would be difficult for him to pay a fine".

Motata will appeal both his conviction and sentence.

Of the R20000 fine, R10000 is payable by October 31 while another R10000 is payable by December this year."

State prosecutor Zaais van Zyl SC said: "The sentence must be something that hurts. Something that will remind him that drinking and driving is a serious offence."

Tokota told the court that Motata would soon return to his job. "He will be back on duty once this case is finalised. He has been out of office for more than two years now and would like to go back to work."

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