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labourcourtsMail & Guardian reports that the appeal panel of the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) has ordered a probe into the behaviour of a Labour Court judge accused of misconduct in his handling of a dispute.  

Former Sasol employee Andile Maseko lodged a complaint against Judge Anton Steenkamp, accusing him of ignoring written submissions in his labour dispute with Sasol, allegedly lying about not receiving the documents and reaching an unfair judgment in favour of the company.  This arose out of a protracted alleged unfair dismissal dispute between Maseko and Sasol.  Maseko’s application in court was dismissed by Steenkamp, who ordered that Maseko could not litigate further against the company until he had satisfied the costs orders against him in his previous cases against the company.  Steenkamp also said in his judgment that he had not received further written submissions from Maseko and his lawyers, a claim the disgruntled ex-employee has denied.  

The JCC’s appeal panel decided that there should be an inquiry into Steenkamp’s conduct under section 17 of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Act, which refers to complaints of conduct that — if proved to be true — would be “serious” but “nonimpeachable”.  “The charge that a judge is lying is a serious one, which, if established, may have far-reaching consequences,” said the panel.  It also drew attention to the fact that Steenkamp had made a follow-up inquiry with Sasol’s lawyers before reaching his judgment, asking them if they had received submissions from Maseko’s representatives, but did not reach out to Maseko’s legal team to ask where the submissions were.

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