Judge President Mlambo and Judge Mudau reported to JCC and Chief Justice

Dismissed UJ lecturer Lyness Matizirofa and her legal team have reported Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and Judge Phanuel Mudau to the Judicial Conduct Committee and Chief Justice for misconduct. Picture: Bonile Bam

Dismissed UJ lecturer Lyness Matizirofa and her legal team have reported Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and Judge Phanuel Mudau to the Judicial Conduct Committee and Chief Justice for misconduct. Picture: Bonile Bam

Published Apr 28, 2024


TWO top Gauteng Judges were reported to the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) and the office of the Chief Justice for alleged misconduct. Opposing attorneys labelled the allegations ‘baseless and vexatious’.

This, after dismissed University of Johannesburg (UJ) lecturer Lyness Matizirofa launched a complaint against Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and Judge Phanuel Mudau at the JCC.

Her lawyers, Machaba Attorneys, want Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to disqualify both Mlambo and Mudau from hearing the case between Matizorofa, UJ, and its former vice-chancellor Professor Tshilidzi Marwala.

Mlambo and Mudau have been accused of unethical and unconstitutional behaviour by Matizirofa.

Matizirofa has been fighting against Marwala and UJ in various courts after she was dismissed for poor performance and gross dishonesty following a disciplinary hearing in 2020.

However, according to her, the dismissal was based on the fact she was a Zimbabwean and had a disability.

In the letters issued to JCC and the Chief Justice, Matizirofa and her legal attorneys said there was a rising trend in the legal profession of demonstrating disrespect for courts and the judiciary.

The group said this has been displayed by Marwala, Eversheds-Sutherland SA INC, representing UJ and Marwala. They said this trend has allegedly found unethical support from Mudau and Mlambo.

Both Mudau and Mlambo’s offices did not respond.

Judicial Services Commission (JSC) spokesperson Advocate Sesi Baloyi said the JCC and the Chief Justice have not received any such complaint, and there was no record of such complaint.

Matizirofa and her legal team said they hold the consonant view and approach that the Gauteng Division and Gauteng Local Division judges should be disqualified from hearing the matter, because one of cases implicates the unethical and unconstitutional conduct of Mudau and Mlambo.

The group said this was because South African Judges cannot be seen to be at the centre of victimising a disabled woman, adding that this is not what “our” Constitutional democracy epitomises.

The group said this was because Mudau sat in a matter that involved his relative Marwala and he never disclosed this.

They added that attorneys for Marwala did not disclose that he, Mudau, and National Research Foundation (NRF) CEO Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo were related. Marwala, Mudau and Nelwamondo attended the funeral of the Vhamsanda Nemukhovani in 2022.

Matizirofa and Machaba said Eversheds and its attorneys, Sandro Milo, Nadia Froneman, Advocate Paul McNally and Advocate Tererai Mafukidze might have manipulated the court roll, transferring the matter that was before Judge Motsamai Makume to Mudau.

“When the Honourable Justice Mudau seized with the matter, he deliberately failed to disclose his relationship with Prof Marwala or alternatively withheld such information,” read the complaints.

“The objective facts are that as a result of not even disclosing his relationship and or out-of-court relationship with Prof Marwala and Mr Nemukovhani (who remains a client of Machaba Attorneys and remains represented at the Constitutional Court by the law firm and Advocate MacGregor Kufa), Honourable Justice Mudau should at the very least have disclosed such relationship(s) and he failed to do so.

“That failure to do so is the foundational basis of the misconduct of failing to declare a conflict of interest and thus harmed the interests of justice and the independence of the judiciary as encored in section 165 of the Constitution,” the complaints further read.

The group said the fact that Mudau did not recuse himself from the matter despite being related to Marwala was grossly unethical and illegal.

However, Marwala told the Sunday Independent that he was not related to Mudau and that he never met him.

NFR spokesperson Tandi Mapukata on Wednesday requested this paper to explain the connection between Nemukovhani and UJ lecturer’s case, but failed to respond after the paper has done so.

Machaba Attorneys also added that due to recent developments that Mlambo was hosted and received gifts from Dr Letlhokwa Mpedi, the current UJ vice-chancellor, further disqualifies the two divisions from hearing these matters.

Froneman said it was denied that Mudau is related to Marwala.

She said their instructions are that Marwala does not know Judge Mudau at all.

“It is also denied that Dr Nelwamondo is related to Professor Marwala. We are instructed that Dr Nelwamondo was Professor Marwala’s PhD student in the early 2000s. That is the full extent of their relationship. In any event, we can see no relevance in the false allegation that the two are related and/or friends,” said Froneman.

“The judiciary is known to be stoutly independent, and any allegation that Judge Mudau is somehow biased towards Professor Marwala, or that Judge President Mlambo is in some way implicated because he was hosted by our client’s now Vice-Chancellor (Professor Mpedi), who is different from the Vice-Chancellor when Ms Matizirofa was dismissed from the University, is completely baseless and vexatious,” she said.

She said the allegation that Eversheds Sutherland (including Mr Milo and her) and counsel briefed by them manipulated the court roll has no foundation and was vexatious. Froneman said this is a serious allegation, which was entirely without substance, and has no evidence to back it up.

“Equally, the serious allegation that Advocate Paul McNally SC lied to the court when successfully obtaining the interdict against Ms Matizirofa, Mr Machaba and Mr Kufa is baseless and vexatious.”

In a leaked letter dated April 24, Froneman also told Zondo’s office that allegations were false.