Hlophe withdraws interdict against parliament

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe has withdrawn his urgent interdict to try to stop parliament from implementing recommendations by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) that he be impeached.

In April the Judicial Conduct Tribunal found Hlophe guilty of trying to influence judges Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jafta in favour of president Jacob Zuma in 2008 and ruled in favour of his impeachment. 

Hlophe had approached the Johannesburg high court for an urgent order preventing the National Assembly from proceeding with his impeachment hearing ahead of the outcome of a review of the tribunal’s decision.

Hlophe had also asked the court to interdict President Cyril Ramaphosa from suspending him, pending the outcome of a review application he had brought into the JSC decision to impeach him.

The JSC has told the court that it will not suspend Hlophe ahead of the impeachment process in the National Assembly, which will only take place in November.

Hlophe’s legal team had to abandon the first part of its application for the matter to be heard urgently, as there was no need because the impeachment process would only go ahead after 3 November, during parliament’s next semester.

The second part of the application — a review of the JSC decision — will be placed back on the court roll at a later date.

Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland, who heard the application, said it was clear from the papers before the court that the decision to attempt to interdict the president and parliament on an urgent basis were “premature”.

Hlophe came under fire from Sutherland over a demand that a judge from another division be brought in to hear the application because of alleged bias of judges serving under Judge President Dunstan Mlambo.

Sutherland took exception to a letter from Hlophe, which asserted that none of the judges in the division were fit to hear the case and were “minions” who were “enthralled” by Mlambo and “go around sucking up to him.”

Hlophe’s counsel, Thembalihle Sidaki, said the contents of the letter were “unfortunate.”

Sutherland said that he would case-manage the matter until it was assigned to a judge of the division to be heard.

“A judge of this division will hear this matter,” he said.

A spokesperson for parliament welcomed the decision.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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