Pietermaritzburg magistrate Ashin Singh, who is facing the possibility of being sacked from the bench after a plethora of complaints laid against him, has landed himself in hot water once again. This time he told a public meeting that “the only black Africans who are at the same level as Indians, whites and coloureds in terms of work ethic are Zimbabweans”.
It was Singh’s organisation, the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem) that called the public meeting, which was held in Raisethorpe, Pietermaritzburg in March to discuss the topic of “African racism” perpetrated against whites, coloureds and Indians.
But the local newspaper, The Witness, reported that the meeting soon degenerated into a “rowdy racism ruckus”. Singh had said black Africans are more racist than Afrikaners and that the minorities were being oppressed by the “racist” ANC government. The mushrooming of informal settlements in predominately Indian areas, he had said, was part of a concerted ANC effort to influence voting patterns.
He is also reported to have said that homeless Africans “shit and pee on our streets” and that the state was deliberately excluding minorities from university.
“When they (squatters) are not happy with government they throw their shit at us,” he was quoted as saying.
Singh told The Witness journalist who attended the public hearing, that he was not a racist and he was being persecuted for “telling the truth”.
Oddly, Singh – who has long been recognised as the founder and face of Samrem – told The Witness he held no position in the organisation and that he would soon be lodging a complaint with the United Nations about the South African government’s treatment of minority groups.
Noseweek has since learnt that Singh threatened The Witness over its reporting of the meeting. Witness editor Yves Vanderhaeghen confirmed that “Singh has threatened to sue”, but added that he couldn’t say much more as it would be “imprudent”.
|Journalist Sharika Regchand|
This is not Singh’s first tango with The Witness. A criminal case was opened against him by Witness journalist Sharika Regchand (nose227) following a heated exchange at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court in July 2018 after Singh allegedly threatened Regchand’s husband and children, called her “a bitch”, and intimated that she was sexually promiscuous with her sources.
The Witness also filed a complaint of abusive conduct against Singh with the Magistrate’s Commission.
In a separate incident (nose231) in November 2018, Singh was called out by now retired magistrate Petronella Joubert who, on her last day on the bench, sent out an email on the magistrate’s circuit effectively calling Singh a liar for making “wild and unfounded allegations” against her over a 14-year period. Joubert too has an outstanding matter against Singh lodged with the Magistrate’s Commission.
In January Wendy Watson, one-time regional manager of the KwaZulu-Natal office of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – to which Singh was seconded – told Noseweek that Singh was an “objectionable, self-opinionated, conflictual person, who always has his own interests at heart before those of justice. He has the ability to start litigation and nastiness on every issue”.
She said that because of his constant threats of litigation against her, she had kept a file on him up until 2009.
In January Singh told Noseweek in several broad statements that there was a cabal seeking to discredit him despite their own chequered histories and to stop him practising as a senior magistrate, often on the most sensitive of cases. He said this group involved magistrates, businessmen and journalists including a network in Pietermaritzburg of “old, liberal, confused, gay, white people” – although, he said, he had nothing against gay people.
While the Magistrate’s Commission would not confirm the status of their investigations against Singh, Noseweek has learnt that a decision is imminent.
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