Timeline of Judge Motata’s Removal


Judge Motata drives into a residential wall whilst intoxicated and is subsequently involved in a verbal confrontation with the property owner. Judge Motata uses racial slurs, profanities and language of a derogatory nature, all of which is recorded by the owner. The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace files a complaint against Judge Motata alleging that his conduct brought disgrace upon him and the judiciary and undermined public respect.

JULY 2008

Afriforum lodges complaint against Judge Motata alleging that he has committed gross racist misconduct and should therefore be impeached in terms of section 177 of the Constitution.


Judge Motata is convicted in the Johannesburg Regional Court of driving a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and sentenced to pay a fine of R20 000 or serve 12 months’ imprisonment.


A full bench of the South Gauteng High Court dismisses Judge Motata’s appeal against this conviction.

MAY 2011

Advocate Gerrit Pretorius SC lodges a complaint against Judge Motata alleging that his conviction is sufficient reason why he should no longer be a judge, and that motivation for his removal was compounded by his unsubstantiated denial that he was intoxicated on 6 January 2007. Pretorius SC further alleges that Judge Motata’s conduct caused the judge’s office to be the object of ridicule, and that his false denial that he was drunk strikes at the heart of the judiciary’s integrity. The three complaints are considered by the JSC’s Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) and it decides that if the conduct complained of in Afriforum’s complaint is found to have been committed it would constitute gross misconduct and refers the matter to the Judicial Conduct Tribunal (JCT) for investigation.


Judge Motata launches proceedings to review the JCC’s decision and to demand, among other things, that the JSC be directed to stop its investigation and that his suspension from the bench be lifted.


The North Gauteng High Court dismisses Judge Motata’s application.

MARCH 2013

The JCT is appointed.


The JCT holds hearings regarding Judge Motata’s conduct.

APRIL 2018

The JCT finds that Judge Motata’s conduct at the scene of his motor accident and the remarks he made were racist and thus impinged on and are prejudicial to the impartiality and dignity of the courts. The JCT also finds that the lack of integrity in the manner in which Judge Motata allowed his defence to be conducted at his trial was incompatible with or unbecoming of the holding of judicial office. The JCT further finds that to permit Judge Motata to remain a judicial officer would negatively affect the public’s confidence in the justice system. The JCT accordingly recommends to the JSC that the provisions of section 177(1)(a) of the Constitution should be invoked, implying that Judge Motata should be found guilty of gross misconduct and removed from office.


The JSC resolves to reject the JCT’s recommendation and finds that Judge Motata’s conduct does not meet the required standard of gross misconduct. Rather, The JSC finds Judge Motata guilty of misconduct and imposes a fine amounting to 12 months of his current net salary, made payable to the South African Judicial Education Institute over 24 months from the date of the decision.

JULY 2020

Freedom Under Law launches an application in the South Gauteng High Court to review and set aside the JSC’s decision to reject the recommendation of the JCT on the grounds that it is unlawful, unconstitutional and irrational, and sought to substitute its decision with a finding of gross misconduct.

APRIL 2022

The South Gauteng High Court dismisses the application in respect of the Afriforum Complaint and remits the Pretorius Complaint back to the JSC for consideration in terms of section 20 of the JSC Act. Freedom Under Law notes an appeal to the SCA.

JUNE 2023

The SCA upholds the appeal and remits the matter to the JSC to reconsider the JCT report. The SCA harshly criticises the JSC for how it handled the Judge Motata complaint, including the bizarre reasons it used to disregard some of the JCT’s findings.


The Speaker of the National Assembly receives a letter from the Chief Justice with the Judicial Service Commission’s recommendation that Gauteng High Court Judge Nkola Motata be impeached and removed from office.


Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Development announces that Judge Motata has until November to place extenuating circumstances before the committee, as it considers his potential impeachment.


Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services resolves to recommend to the National Assembly that Judge Motata be removed from office.


Following sustained pressure from Freedom Under Law, the National Assembly announces that it will vote on Judge Motata’s removal from office on 21 February 2024. Later that afternoon, the National Assembly votes in favour of removing Judge Motata from office.

6 MARCH 2024

President Ramaphosa removes Judge Motata from office formally.