/ 18 October 2007

What to do with the judge?

To ignore the vexed question of how to deal with Cape Judge President John Hlophe is to stick your head in the sand. This issue will not go away.

Recently, former Constitutional Court judge Johann Kriegler wrote in the Sunday Times that Hlophe ‘is not a fit and proper person to be a judge”.

Endorsing this, senior Cape advocates declared: ‘We find ourselves bound to support Justice Kriegler’s analysis and conclusions. In all the circumstances, we believe the right thing for Judge Hlophe to do is to resign as judge president and as a judge.”

The advocates are said to have discussed organising the Bar to boycott the Supreme Court while Hlophe remains in office.

The whole nasty mess started after it came to light that Hlophe was a director of asset-management company Oasis Holdings, which paid him almost R500 000. At the time he was on the company’s payroll he granted it permission to sue fellow high court Judge Siraj Desai.

To muddy the waters further, the issue now seems to be dividing the legal community along racial grounds.

For its part, the Judicial Service Commission found that there was insufficient evidence to justify an inquiry into Hlophe. This is not good enough and at the very least it should explain its rationale, as a properly constituted inquiry with credible finding may be just what is needed to find a way out of this legal mess.

Douglas Gibson
Now on his way to Thailand as ambassador, this Democratic Alliance MP even received warm wishes from the African National Congress this week. “Sometimes he made us laugh and sometimes he made us very angry, but he stood his stead,” ANC chief whip Isaac Mogase said. We hope the Thai beaches don’t temper Gibson’s fiery nature.
Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
Not for the first time this award goes to our Health Minister, who this week said she’ll speak out about allegations that she is an alcoholic and a kleptomaniac — “when the time comes”. She added: “I will not be pushed into a corner just because it is for public consumption.” Still dodging the issue, we think …

Most-read stories
October 11 to 17

1. Jackie Selebi hits back
President Thabo Mbeki’s attack on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the fight-back campaign by Jackie Selebi are threatening to derail the Scorpions’ investigation of the police national commissioner and his alleged links with organised crime.

2. ‘Mbeki set to win’
Politicians and mathematics don’t always go together, but the coming weeks could see campaigners doing the math to determine whether President Thabo Mbeki, businessman Tokyo Sexwale or Jacob Zuma are leading the nominations for the top job in the ANC.

3. Lekota defends Pikoli’s suspension
African National Congress chairperson Mosiuoa Lekota has defended the decision to suspend National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Vusi Pikoli, as well as the police probe into the alleged theft of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s health records.

4. Sunday Times editor to hand himself in
A lawyer for Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya and deputy managing editor Jocelyn Maker has said they would hand themselves over to police in Cape Town this week, instead of waiting to be arrested for the alleged possession of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s medical records, Business Day reported on Monday.

5. DA slams Manto’s Baragwanath visit
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng on Wednesday criticised Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for threatening to take action against nurses who placed babies in a cardboard box at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, the party said.

6. Pikoli saga: Govt worried over SA image
Government spokesperson Themba Maseko admitted on Thursday that the authorities were worried about the damage being done to the country’s international image by the ongoing saga surrounding suspended National Prosecuting Authority head Vusi Pikoli and police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

7. ‘Real issue is why Selebi is not being prosecuted’
A top legal academic has dismissed as ‘a red herring” suggestions that suspended National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Vusi Pikoli has jeopardised South Africa’s national security interests by indemnifying and plea-bargaining with criminals in exchange for their testimony.

8. Female officer tried to stop deadly cannon
A female artillery officer risked her life at Lohatlha on Friday in a desperate bid to prevent members of her battery being killed by their own anti-aircraft gun, the Saturday Star reported.

9. Political parties bid farewell to Douglas Gibson
Political parties on Tuesday paid tribute to outgoing Democratic Party MP Douglas Gibson, who is leaving Parliament to take up a post as South Africa’s ambassador to Thailand.

10. Woolmer inquest hears of blood, vomit
A Jamaican chambermaid said on Tuesday she found a bloodied bed, an overturned chair and a smell like alcohol and vomit when she stumbled on former Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer’s unconscious body in his Kingston hotel room earlier this year, while a United Kingdom pathologist said the coach could have had company at the time of his death.