Panel of nine to hear Hlophe appeal

Nine Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judges will sit on an appeal by the Constitutional Court judges against a high court judgement in favour of Judge President John Hlophe of the Cape High Court.

The panel, to be led by the deputy president of the Supreme Court of Appeal, Louis Harms, would hear the appeal on March 23.

The appeal relates to a dispute between Hlophe and the judges of the Constitutional Court.

It relates to a Johannesburg High Court judgement on September 26 last year, which found that a publication by the Constitutional Court judges was “untested allegations of gross misconduct” against Hlophe and unlawful.

The high court also found that the publication of allegations in the media was unreasonable and it unjustifiably violated Hlophe’s constitutional right to dignity and his right to be heard in relation to such publication.

The Johannesburg court also found that the publication of the allegations violated Hlophe’s right to equality.

The Constitutional Court judges said in documents filed at the Bloemfontein court that the finding of the high court was both serious and unprecedented.

It said it was in the interest of the administration of justice generally and to all the parties to the litigation that the issue be finally resolved by a court of appeal.

The matter relates to a complaint against Hlophe that he approached some Constitutional Court judges in an improper attempt to influence a pending judgement involving ANC president Jacob Zuma in one or more cases in March and April 2008.

The Constitutional Court issued a media statement when it filed the complaint with the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

This statement led to the present matter.

The complaint against Hlophe at the JSC and Hlophe’s complaint against the judges were on hold pending the appeal.

The SCA ordered the heads of argument of the Constitutional Court judges (appellants) be filed at the Bloemfontein court on March 6, while Hlophe’s heads of argument should be at the court on March 20.

The SCA judges who would hear the appeal with Harms were Piet Streicher, Kennith Mthinyane, Thomas Cloete, Nathan Ponnan, Dunston Mlambo, Azar Cachalia, Suretha Snyders and Nonkosi Mhlantla.—Sapa

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