NEW WHEELS: Judge Ota (insert) has been allocated a government Chevrolet Cruze L5 sedan with private registration numbers ISD 719 BH.
HARDLY a month after Government Chief Vehicle Inspector Bhantshana Gwebu caused furore by detaining High Court Judge Esther Ota whilst on official duty
Judge Ota has been allocated a government Chevrolet Cruze L5 sedan with private registration numbers ISD 719 BH.
The car is amongst the 900 fleet of motor vehicles worth E400 million that was delivered to government departments recently. It was gathered that Judge Ota started using the car last week.
However, Supreme Court Registrar Lorraine Hlophe could not be reached for comment to verify this information.
Last month, Chief Justice Ramodibedi issued a warrant of arrest against Bhantshana Gwebu for impounding a government car used by Judge Ota.
Justice Ota was being chauffeured by driver Vusi Tsela in a Mitsubishi Lancer registered GSD 028 JU at Sifundzani Primary School in Mbabane at around 9am on Saturday when Gwebu pounced on the car.
Gwebu seized the motor vehicle on the basis that it had not been authorised.
Justice Ota was also present when the no-nonsense head of the government anti-abuse unit held the vehicle ‘hostage’.
At the time the vehicle was impounded, Judge Ota was the duty-judge and she was expected to attend to another case on a Saturday at the High Court late in the evening.
After the Chief Justice had issued the warrant on Saturday, Gwebu surrendered himself at the Police Headquarters in Mbabane in the company of his lawyer, Machawe Sithole.
He subsequently made an appearance on Monday before the CJ in his chambers, where he remanded in him in custody for seven days in the absence of a charge sheet.
His bail application was heard by Judge Bheki Maphalala, who granted him E7 000 bail, of which E5 000 was surety and E2 000 in cash.
Gwebu’s bail deposit was paid by the National Public Servants & Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), which indicated that it was showing moral support. Gwebu is a member of the organisation.
After his release on bail, Gwebu informed the media that he was not intimidated as he would continue with his work.
True to his words, the following day after his release he was back at his old tricks as he arrested a government driver abusing a car.
The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) instructed South African Advocate Norman Kades on the matter.
Gwebu’s contempt of court case is currently pending at the High Court.
However, the official got a lot of public sympathy during his arrest, with some claiming that government was contradicting itself by laying charges against Bantshana as he was mainly doing his job.
Others felt the Chief Justice was wrong to issue the warrant of arrest as he was compromised after having previously clashed with Gwebu.
With Judge Ota having now been allocated a car, some would feel that it’s a small victory for Gwebu, given the gravity with which the matter was treated as he spent over a week in custody after his arrest.