JSC tribunal must investigate Hlophe, says conduct committee

"The committee considered that this complaint, if established, will prima facie indicate gross misconduct which may lead to impeachment," the committee said in a statement on Thursday.

"Accordingly, the committee has recommended to the Judicial Service Commission [JSC] that a tribunal be appointed to investigate it."

The committee took into account the pronouncements of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) that the JSC must decide whether John Hlophe, as Western Cape judge president, was guilty of gross misconduct or not.

In 2008 judges of the Constitutional Court complained that Hlophe had visited some judges at the court in Johannesburg and had inappropriately alluded to a judgment relating to President Jacob Zuma and arms company Thint before corruption charges against them were dropped.

They regarded this as an improper attempt to influence the case.

Reconsidering complaints
Hlophe, affronted that the judges had also sent a copy of the complaint to the media before he had had time to deal with it, laid a counter complaint.

A lengthy stop-start parallel process of JSC hearings and court challenges began.

The matter was ultimately heard in the SCA with rulings in favour of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and lobby group Freedom Under Law.

The SCA ruled that the JSC must reconsider both complaints.

Zille had complained that as premier she should have been included in the JSC's preliminary investigation into the matter. Freedom Under Law had complained about utterances Hlophe allegedly made.

The issue also tested the Constitutional Court when Hlophe approached the judges for leave to appeal. They turned down the application for leave to appeal and the JSC ruling stood.

Oral submissions were then made on August 24.

Gross misconduct
A second decision released on Thursday by the conduct committee related to a complaint by Freedom Under Law.

The committee said it accepted that some of the utterances made by Hlophe after the complaint was laid by the judges, "if established" indicated gross misconduct on Hlophe's part.

At the time the comments were reportedly that the judges were "dishonest, untruthful, malicious, vindictive and driven by a political motive".

But the committee considered the circumstances under which the utterances were made and came to the conclusion that in view of such circumstances it was not likely that such misconduct would justify impeachment.

The proper course would be an inquiry in terms of the Judicial Service Act 9.

"This would, however, expose the judge to complaints and penalties that were not there when the complaint arose.

"This would violate the established rule of law against retrospective application of legislation. This complaint could therefore not be proceeded with and was accordingly dismissed," the committee said. – Sapa

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sapa
Guest Author
Advertising

READ IT IN FULL: Ramaphosa’s address on the extension of...

This is the full address given by President Cyril Ramaphosa on April 9

Meet the doctor leading Africa’s fight to contain the coronavirus...

Dr Matshidiso Moeti’s father helped to eliminate smallpox. Now she’s leading Africa’s efforts against the coronavirus

Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world