Lamola suspends magistrate for questionable outcomes

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has provisionally suspended Ms K. Bodlani, an acting regional magistrate at Umlazi, KwaZulu Natal, pending the outcome of an investigation into her fitness to hold office as a magistrate.

The matter was referred to the minister by the Magistrates’ Commission. Following a judicial quality assessment of Ms Bodlani’s work which revealed serious irregularities and shortcomings, “most notably that a number of her cases had to be sent on special review in terms of section 304(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act as several serious shortcomings and incompetent sentences were imposed by her”.

The justice ministry said Bodlani was allocated to Sexual Offences Court and dealt cases of child victims who were raped by adults, with the prescribed minimum sentence for those offences being life imprisonment.

“In almost all finalised cases which were assessed, Ms Bodlani imposed sentences where the accused were cautioned or strongly reprimanded or wholly suspended. The suspended sentences she imposed were found to have been both incompetent and incomplete.

“After a substantial number of Bodlani’s judgments went on special review to the high court, the reviewing judges raised serious questions as to her suitability for judicial office. They found the sentences she imposed as, among others ‘incorrect for incompleteness, incompetent, outrageous, disturbing to the extreme, shockingly inappropriate and completely contrary to the very factors relevant to sentencing’.”

Lamola has as a result on the advice of the Magistrates’ Commission provisionally suspended the magistrate.

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