LAWMEN FACE THE AXE

FIVE magistrates variously accused of fraud, alcoholism, theft, sexual harassment, and "assault with a blunt axe" face dismissal.

FIVE magistrates variously accused of fraud, alcoholism, theft, sexual harassment, and "assault with a blunt axe" face dismissal.

The five magistrates, including one who allegedly called a female clerk a "f***g whore", were suspended by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe earlier this year.

Under the Magistrates Act, Parliament must pass a resolution confirming the suspensions.

Sowetan is in possession of a report of a closed meeting of Parliament's justice portfolio committee recommending that the suspensions be confirmed. This means that the department could fire the magistrates.

Umlazi magistrate Michael Themba Masinga was charged with the attempted murder of his wife, Nompumelelo Princess Masinga.

"He assaulted his wife with a blunt axe, kicked and hit her with open hands and threatened to kill her. He also assaulted his daughter," the justice committee said.

"It would be inappropriate for him to be on the Bench while appearing in court to face charges of attempted murder and assault."

The second magistrate in the firing line is Ermelo magistrate Wessel Prinsloo.

A female clerk at the court, Sané van Wyk, laid charges of crimen injuria against Prinsloo after allegedly receiving 10 obscene phone calls and messages from him.

Prinsloo reportedly called van Wyk a "f***g whore". He later argued that "the incidents happened during a difficult time in his personal life".

But the justice portfolio committee said "although the allegations have still to be proved, their moral depravity is such that Prinsloo should be suspended from office".

Magistrate LB Maruwa of Daveyton was charged with 11 counts of fraud in 2007 but was only suspended in February after being found guilty. He was sentenced to a fine of R5000, but the justice committee ruled that "it is inappropriate for a judicial officer, convicted of fraud, to sit on the Bench".

Clocolan magistrate D Jacobs "suffers from severe alcohol dependency, to such an extent that he is unable to perform his judicial functions effectively".

Daveyton magistrate MK Chauke was convicted of stealing "a number of containers from the Vitamine Laboratories".

X