Cape Bar lodges complaint against Judge Parker
The Cape Bar Council has lodged a complaint with the JSC against Western Cape High Court Judge Mushtak Parker, with regard to his conduct and knowledge of an alleged R8m shortfall in the trust account of a legal firm he helped to establish, according to a Daily Maverick report by Marianne Thamm.
Advocate and senior counsel Andrew Mark Breitenbach lodged the affidavit with the JSC on behalf of the Cape Bar Council yesterday. The complaint against Parker comes in the wake of an application in January 2020 by the Legal Practice Council (LPC) to the Western Cape High Court to have two directors linked to Parker’s legal firm struck from the roll of attorneys.
The LPC has also asked the court for a curator to be appointed to administer the accounts of Parker & Khan Incorporated, pending the application to strike two directors, Abdurahman Khan and Irfan Kassiem Parker from the roll.
Case No 22707/19 was due to be heard in the troubled division on 21 February, but voluminous court papers appeared to have gone ‘missing’ from the division before it was due to be heard.
The case has now been postponed to April.
When did Judge President John Hlophe become aware that a judge in his division had been implicated in the misappropriation of trust funds of a firm linked to him and what did he do about it at the time? asks the DM report.
Parker is still a judge in the division and no complaint by Hlophe has been sent to the JSC.
Parker is also the judge that allegedly told fellow judges that he had been assaulted by Hlophe.
The 10 judges have subsequently also complained to the JSC that Parker appears to have not told the truth when he ‘agreed’ with an affidavit by Hlophe to the JSC, in a matter involving a complaint by Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath, that he had not assaulted Parker, says the DM report.
There are screeds of printed WhatsApp messages between Mushtak Parker, his brother and Khan which form part of the LPC application and which Breitenbach cites in his affidavit.
Also, in his affidavit, Breitenbach said Parker had, from October 2016 onwards, held a series of appointments as an acting judge of the High Court in the Western Cape before his appointment as a judge in November 2017.
In a JSC questionnaire, Parker had described himself as, at the time of signature (2005 until present) as ‘the founder and managing partner of Parker & Khan’.
The questionnaire contained, said Breitenbach, the following questions to both of which Parker had replied ‘no’:
‘Are there any circumstances, financial or otherwise, known to you which may cause you embarrassment in undertaking the office of a judge?’
‘Is there any other relevant matter which you should bring to the attention of the commission?’
Parker was subsequently shortlisted by the JSC for a permanent position in the High Court and was appointed with effect from 1 November 2017. The grounds for the complaint by the Cape Bar Council, said Breitenbach, were set out in section 14 (4) (b) and/or (e) of the Judicial Service Commission Act.
These dealt ‘more specifically’ with ‘wilful or grossly negligent breaches of articles 4 (a) and 5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct’ as well as ‘other wilful or grossly negligent conduct, other than conduct contemplated in section 14 (4) (a) to (d) that is incompatible with or unbecoming the holding of judicial office’.
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