Magistrate Awarded Over R9m in Damages Due to Unfair Treatment

Palace of Justice

A former Randburg magistrate, Machiel Reinecke, was awarded R9.46m in damages by the High Court in Pretoria this week for unfair treatment he suffered at the hands of chief magistrate Cedric Booi.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius found that Booi’s management style had made it impossible for Reinecke to continue his career. In a disciplinary inquiry into Booi’s conduct, two of his senior colleagues described his management style as “that of an old apartheid manager.”

They said, “He does not consult. He does not ask. He does not say thank you. He gives orders and if you dare to differ, then the hell with all its fury will come down on you.”

At the time of Reinecke’s employment, the justice department refused to pay for his resettlement costs from Germiston to Randburg, because Booi had not signed the forms required. Booi also decided that Reinecke was not entitled to travel and subsistence allowance. Reinecke then filed a grievance with the magistrate’s commission which led to Booi terminating his duties as a relief magistrate and used him to perform clerical work.

After Booi refused to discuss Reinecke’s grievances time and time again, Reinecke eventually resigned under protest in 2002.

Judge Pretorius said that Booi had degraded and humiliated Reinecke and made it impossible for him to continue as a magistrate. She found that Reinecke would have most likely been promoted to senior magistrate and should be compensated accordingly.

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