Tribunal 'must investigate' two complaints against judge Mushtak Parker

The judicial conduct committee has recommended that two complaints against Western Cape High Court judge Mushtak Parker be investigated and reported upon by the judicial conduct tribunal.
The judicial conduct committee has recommended that two complaints against Western Cape High Court judge Mushtak Parker be investigated and reported upon by the judicial conduct tribunal.
Image: Picture: 123RF/Evgenyi Lastochkin

The Judicial Conduct Committee has recommended that two complaints against Western Cape High Court judge Mushtak Parker be investigated and reported upon by the Judicial Conduct Tribunal.

The committee said the complaints against Parker, if established, could indicate gross misconduct that would be seen as bringing the judiciary into disrepute.

Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng referred two complaints to the committee, for it to determine whether it should make a recommendation that the complaints be investigated and reported on by a tribunal.

The first complaint against Parker was made by 10 judges in his division.

The complaint is that Parker gave two contradictory and mutually exclusive versions about an incident which appears to have happened in his chambers on February 25 2019, between himself and judge president John Hlophe.

The first version is that he was allegedly assaulted by Hlophe and the other, given in February this year, is that Hlophe did not assault him.

The second complaint was lodged by the Cape Bar Council.

It alleges that Parker, who was an attorney before being appointed judge in 2017, acted improperly and dishonestly in not disclosing the deficit in his previous law firm's trust account to the Judicial Service Commission's nomination questionnaire during his JSC interview.

On the first complaint, Parker had alleged he was assaulted by Hlophe and told various judges about the alleged assault last year and early this year.

In January this year, deputy judge president Patricia Goliath lodged a complaint against Hlophe relating to various incidents, including the alleged assault of Parker by Hlophe.

The judges said Hlophe, in an affidavit on February 7 this year, denied having assaulted Parker and said that he had shown Parker an affidavit that contained his version of the alleged assault and that Parker had agreed with  Hlophe's version.

They also said Parker, in a letter to another judge in the division dated March 13 2020, said having reflected on the narrative with regard to the alleged assault, he realised that events may not have unfolded in the way he had initially perceived.

“I am satisfied that there is absolutely no basis for a complaint against the Judge- President, and request you once again to respect my decision,” the letter by Parker read.

The judges point out that Parker had - by telling conflicting versions about the alleged assault - failed to uphold the integrity of the judiciary as he was obliged to do under the code of judicial conduct, and that he failed to act honourably in the discharge of his duties as he is required to under the code.

In its decision, the committee said if the first complaint of Parker having given two versions is established, it seems it will mean that Parker acted dishonestly in giving two contradictory and mutually exclusive versions about the incident that happened in his chambers between himself and Hlophe.

“If the complaint is established without (Parker) having given a valid reason or an acceptable explanation as to why he changed his version early in February 2020, his conduct would be seen as extremely serious, particularly because he is a judge.

“With regard to the second complaint, we consider that, if it is established, it will prima facie indicate gross misconduct on the part of (Parker).”

The committee said the existence of a trust deficit could indicate that Parker and/or his partners misappropriated the funds of their trust creditors while he practised as an attorney.

“If established, misappropriation of funds would be a serious conduct that may inter alia reflect negatively on the integrity of Parker,” the committee said in a decision by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.


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