In their latest bid to secure a fair trial, the four suspended judges are now calling on the Registrar and Master of the High Court to furnish them with transcripts of the previous court proceedings. The judges also want to force the panel of judges to recuse themselves from their case.
In an urgent application argued yesterday, Justices, Key Dingake, Mercy Garekwe, Modiri Letsididi, Ranier Busang are seeking for the Registrar to be compelled to comply with rules of the High Court and provide all the records.
The judges deem the records crucial to their recusal application against Justices Singh Walia, Leatile Dambe and Zibani Makhwade that was scheduled for argument yesterday.
Through their lawyer Pepsi Thuto, the quartet’s contention is that without the proceedings records, especially of February 4, March 31, April 28 and May19, their application for recusal of the judges was doomed.
Thuto explained that without all those records, the suspended judges are prejudiced to argue their application for recusal of the judges from their case.
“We want the judges to recuse themselves from the applicants’ case, but first we need those records which clearly have exchanges that show that the panel is biased against the applicants. Without them the recusal application is not substantial,” she said.
She argued that since the recusal application, the applicants had written many letters to the Registrar requesting him to furnish them with the records, but he had failed to do so, opting to wait until the last minute.
Thuto maintained that the Registrar had failed to respond or acknowledge the various letters until two days prior to the recusal application and omitted the records.
“We have written letters since August 18, only to receive an incomplete record days closer to the application that we wanted the records for. It was not even complete; it had omissions of what really transpired in court,” Thuto said.
She argued that there had been utterances that were made in court that had been clearly omitted from the first record delivered to them and that the second one also came totally different.
Thuto explained that the case constituted no records at all and that the Registrar had failed to comply with the rules of court.
“Without the records we cannot argue the case and for the Registrar to claim that we are not entitled to the records according to order 45 of the Rules of the High Court is something else. Either the Registrar doesn’t know the rules or he is ill advised,” Thuto said.
Responding to the judges, state attorney Anwar Albertus SC from the Cape Bar said the judges were only applying delay tactics by demanding the records.
He said the judges have no reason to say their recusal application will be doomed if they did not receive any records.
“This is an exercise that is going nowhere. It is just a waste of time and abuse of the legal system. There was no need to come to court for this,” he said.
Ruling in the matter is reserved for October 13. Meanwhile the judges want Justices Walia, Dambe and Makhwade to recuse themselves from their case.
Their contention is that the panel has been biased in dealing with their matter and that they will not be afforded a fair hearing.
The panel had earlier in April dismissed the quartet’s application, in which they sought to be furnished with the necessary documents crucial to their pending review application from amongst others, the President and the Registrar.
The quartet wants the panel to give way for a different panel for their case.