KwaZulu-Natal High Court Judge Dhayanithie Pillay had a pretty tough time during her interview with the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) on Tuesday, 13 April 2021, particularly from leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.
Pillay, who has acted in the Constitutional Court, was questioned on her friendship with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and his former Tourism counterpart, Derek Hanekom.
“I saw Hanekom in my courtroom. I am not friends with him. Mr Gordhan I have known for a long time. We are both activists from Durban and it’s hard not to know him,” she said.
Responding to another question by Malema, Pillay insisted she had never allowed her friendship with Gordhan to influence any of her decisions, particularly pertaining to cases he was involved in and she had to preside over.
“My association with him has never affected on my work and will not, going forward. I have made judgments against the Treasury and against Sars and it has never been a problem,” she said.
Judge Dhaya Pillay and Pravin Gordhan: A possible conflict of interest?
There were also concerns of a possible conflict of interest, in relation to the defamation case by Hanekom against former president Jacob Zuma. Pillay said as part of her work as an IEC commissioner, she had had lunch at Zuma’s Nkandla homestead and that both Hanekom and the former president, did not take issue with anything.
“With the Hanekom matter, there was no conflict of interest but I had recently been hosted (as a member of the IEC) at his home for lunch. It seemed discourteous. But it was a common law dispute of defamation. It was all in the pleadings and I had to apply the law,” she said.
Dhaya Pillay is also the same judge who was accused by Zuma of being biased against him.
Julius Malema further questioned Pillay on why she had used a quote made in a political event, in one of her judgements.
“Is that not judicial capture? You care quoting Oliver Tambo, a political speech given during a political party gathering. I am going to argue in a closed session that you are nothing but a political activist, you are part of Gordhan’s faction would I be correct to say that?,” Malema said.