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Revealed on video: Motata and Mbeki at the bar

The grainy surveillance footage picks out Thabo Mbeki at the bar. The former South African president appears pensive. At his elbow, just out of the frame, another man pours himself a glass of red wine.

”So the Boer, the Jew, the Irishman and the Indian walk into a bar, and the barman says: ‘What is this, a fucking joke?’,” says the man to Mbeki’s left.

ZA NEWS CCTV November 20, 2009

Watch the video

The man off-camera is Judge Nkola Motata and yes, it’s an episode of ZA News, the satirical, web-only take on South African politics.

The video surveillance tape purports to have been taken on the evening of January 5 2007, after which Judge Nkola Motata then drove his Jaguar into the wall of a house in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.

But back to the bar.

Mbeki begins to quote from the WB Yeats poem The Second Coming: ”A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun …”

Motata: ”Hey what the fuck are you on about?”

Mbeki: ”It is something that Yeats wrote. He’s my favourite, you know Judge.”

Motata: ”Yeats? Fuck him. What does he know?”

Mbeki: ”Bartender, give me the bill, I think I must go now …”

Motata: ”Hey, where’s that fucking barman? [shouts] Hey, maburu, move your arse and get us another bottle of this red … Hey I would say to you fuck you too, I do not care about you and anyway I must go drive into a wall now.”

In reality, this is exactly what happened — in the early hours of January 6 2007 he drove his car through the wall of a suburban property. Luckily, homeowner Richard Baird had the presence of mind to record Motata’s rantings with his cellphone.

The Mail & Guardian subsequently took a careful listen to the tapes, and reported that Motata can distinctly be heard saying to bystanders in SeSotho: ”All of you, let me tell you, my brothers and sisters — these people should not catch us. Let us live, we are the majority and this is our land. It is not the land of the boers [maburu] even if they have big bodies. South Africa is ours, we rule it.”

The tapes, described as ”indistinct” in court transcripts at Motata’s drunken-driving trial, show that the judge uttered racial slurs; tried to arouse the racial sympathy of black bystanders; threw his weight around; swore repeatedly, including at police officers; and tried to get away from the scene of the accident.

A Johannesburg magistrate later found him guilty of drunken driving and sentenced him to a R20 000 fine or a year in jail.

The convicted North Gauteng High Court judge may now struggle to stave off a Judicial Service Commission hearing on his possible impeachment for racism and other serious misconduct.

Read the (real) transcript from January 6 2007

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