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10 Oct 2008 17:03
The Constitutional Court filed papers in the Johannesburg High Court on Friday to appeal the latter’s ruling on Cape Judge President John Hlophe.
The Johannesburg High Court ruled that the Constitutional Court had infringed on Hlophe’s dignity by making public a complaint that he had tried to interfere in a judgement it was preparing.
In their papers, the Constitutional Court’s judges argued that the Johannesburg High Court’s finding was not justified in law and was contradictory.
They stand by their claim that Hlophe had attempted to influence judges Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jafta while the two were preparing their judgement on whether African National Congress president Jacob Zuma should be entitled to challenge aspects of the corruption case he had faced until last month.
“The essence of the complaint that the applicant had approached some of the judges of the Constitutional Court in an improper attempt to influence the court’s pending judgment in one or more cases was, on the applicant’s own version, true and its publication was in the public interest.”
They submit that they had made public their statement to the Judicial Service Commission containing the allegation against Hlophe to safeguard the independence of the judiciary.
If details of this complaint had emerged later, there would have been a serious risk that the litigants (Zuma and French arms company Thint), and the South African public, would have questioned the way their decision had been reached.
They believed that the litigants and the public needed to know that the court had not succumbed to it.
Hlophe believed that he should been given a chance to reply to allegations before they were made public.
Hlophe’s lawyer, Lister Nuku, said on Friday he could not comment as he not seen the judgement yet and also needed to take instruction from Hlophe on how to proceed.
The court’s complaint is still to be heard by the JSC, to whom it had sent the letter of complaint.—Sapa
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