When interviewed in April 2017, Maletsatsi Mahalelo was asked to address a letter of objection to her appointment which was lodged with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) by a former clerk claiming that she had ruined his legal career by accusing him of stealing a pair of sunglasses from her chambers.
Mahanelo said she had “never accused” her former clerk of theft and had “thought it reasonable” to ask him about the whereabouts of the missing sunglasses as they were the only people with access to her chambers.
The accuser had stated in his letter that he had been humiliated in public and in the presence of another judge and that his law career had been adversely affected because of the accusations. The allegations shut the door on her appointment then.
In Ngwenya v Minister of Police, Mahalelo adjudicated a claim for damages for unlawful arrest, unlawful detention and malicious prosecution. The plaintiff had been arrested without a warrant and detained on a charge of possessing illicit cigarettes. A Zimbabwean national, he had no identity documents on his person.
In dismissing the claim, Mahalelo wrote: “Taking into account the fact that the plaintiff was found alone in the bedroom in which the illicit cigarettes were found and was not able to explain the presence thereof, it is reasonable that the arresting officer entertained the suspicion that a crime was committed in his presence, consequently it was not necessary for him to obtain a warrant.”
“It is common cause that the plaintiff is a Zimbabwean citizen, at the time of his arrest he did not possess a valid passport… [the arresting officer] testified that he took into account the fact that the plaintiff was an illegal immigrant for purposes of considering bail. He concluded that the detention of the applicant was an appropriate way of ensuring his attendance in court … A warning of the plaintiff or his release on bail at the police station under these circumstances would not serve the interest of justice.”
Mahalelo holds a BJuris and LLB from the North West University. She has previously worked as a public prosecutor and a magistrate. In 2003 she was elevated to a regional magistrate. Mahanelo has acted at the South Gauteng division of the high court between 2011-2016.
October 2017 Interview:
October 2017 – Interview synopsis
It was handbags at noon — again — for Magistrate Maletsatsi Mahalelo, when she was asked by the Judicial Service Commission whether a problem relating to a law clerk filing an objection to her candidature in April 2017 had been resolved. (See profile above).
Mahalelo said the matter “had been resolved” by Gauteng High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, but refused to go into detail despite urging by various commissioners.
She did admit that she was unaware if the objection had been withdrawn or not.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng suggested that Mlambo reveal the details of the resolution when the commission met behind closed doors to deliberate at the end of this round of interviews.
When asked by Economic Freedom Fighters member of parliament Julius Malema whether she was a “gender activist or a feminist” Mahalelo stated “I am none of these”. She did concede to Malema that there needed to be a 50/50 gender representation on the Bench “to install confidence and trust in the judiciary”.