Judging Hlophe

More revelations surfaced this week about Cape Judge President John Hlophe’s alleged attempt to influence Constitutional Court judges in cases involving African National Congress president Jacob Zuma.

Hlophe apparently told acting Judge Chris Jafta, in isiZulu, words to the effect that ‘you are our last hope” and that the case against Zuma ‘should be looked at properly”, reported Business Day.

The paper on Thursday published the allegations made in Chief Justice Pius Langa’s submission to the Judicial Service Commission.

Hlophe’s alleged comments cannot be swept under the carpet as a case of misspeaking or misquotation. The embattled judge could, of course, always say his words were taken out of context, or deny ever having spoken them.

The judges involved in the alleged incident—Jafta and Constitutional Court Justice Bess Nkabinde—say Hlophe approached them at the end of March and on April 23 2008, respectively.
Crucially, Hlophe apparently told Nkabinde that ‘he had a mandate to act as he was doing”.

On Thursday afternoon, the ANC distanced itself from the claim. Zuma’s office referred queries about the alleged mandate to the ANC.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe was quoted as saying by the Cape Argus: “Judge Hlophe is not a member of any structure of the ANC, so I don’t know what mandate he would be talking about.”

We now await Hlophe’s version of the story.

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