The Judicial Service Commission’s Julius Malema appeared to come out swinging again with his questions. But it was Advocate Fazal Moola’s account of his having to raise a golf-club to an allegedly drug-addled junior counsel that raised eyebrows — and laughter — during the second interview for a position at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court.
Moola was asked to explain a submission to the commission from Advocates for Transformation (AFT) which related to a complaint lodged by a junior at the KZN Bar regarding Moola’s behaviour towards him. The senior counsel qualified that the incident had taken place in chambers, and not in court, before launching into an explanation that took the breath away — for its humour value as much as for its drawn-out explanation.
In short, a junior counsel at the advocates group which Moola belonged to in Durban had not been pulling his weight due to an apparent drug problem. Attempts to rehabilitate the lawyer had proved reasonably successfully until things came to a head recently when Moola entered the group’s offices to find a broken granite table-top following the junior advocate’s apparent attempts to swing on it. Moola confronted the junior during which, Moola admitted to the commission, he “picked up a golf club” in the process of ejecting the junior from the office.
Moola denied that he had attacked the junior and said he had not made a submission about the incident to the commission as there had been a decision taken within the group to protect the junior’s reputation.
The issue arose after commissioners picked up on submissions from the legal fraternity that Moola may not possess the right judicial temperament to be appointed to the Bench as he was prone to ill-temper.
Responding to a question by KZN Judge President Achmat Jappie about his being “a bit feisty”, Moola said: “My temperament was forged in the trenches fighting apartheid, you had to be feisty and you had to adopt a fiery approach to fighting injustice.” He later reiterated that he had developed many juniors and assumed several administrative positions in various bodies successfully, and without his temperament being questioned.
Language was again one of the main themes explored during this interview, with Moola being quizzed by at least two commissioners about his inability to speak Zulu – the predominant language in the province.
Moola said while he had a passive knowledge of Zulu, he would be uncomfortable cross-examining anyone in court using the language. He expressed regret at not learning it and admitted that as someone from the rural areas he felt the prejudice suffered by people whose first language was not English appearing in courts.
Moola proffered a more inclusive solution that high court proceedings should occur in the language most used by in the province in which the division was situated with the transcript and judgment being translated into English to ease the appeals process.