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First judicial conduct inquiry in SA

Judge John Hlophe will become the first person to be called before a judicial conduct tribunal.

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe. Picture: SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - The first ever judicial conduct inquiry in South Africa will begin this morning.

The inquiry will investigate whether Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe tried to influence two Constitutional Court judges in cases relating to corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.

Hlophe has repeatedly denied claims that he approached Justice Bess Nkabinde and Justice Chris Jafta while the court was examining which evidence could be used against Zuma in 2008.

The tribunal, which will be chaired by retired judge Joop Labuschagne, will hear technical arguments about whether the hearing can actually go ahead because Jafta and Nkabinde have not formally submitted written complaints against Hlophe.

The arguments are likely to revolve around whether this hearing will be held under the Judicial Services Commission Act that was in force at the time Hlophe spoke to the judges, or if a new procedure will be used.

In 2008, the entire Constitutional Court said it would lodge a formal complaint against Hlophe because he had told Jafta he was Zuma's only hope to avoid corruption charges.

Hlophe is being represented by British lawyer, Courtney Griffiths QC, whose clients include former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

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