Hlophe denies he tried to persuade ConCourt judges to be lenient with Zuma

Justice John Hlophe said that he could not have been on a mission to influence any Constitutional Court judge as he would have had to know where they stood in the Jacob Zuma matter to do so.

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe. Picture: www.judiciary.org.za

JOHANNESBURG - Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe has dismissed allegations that he tried to improperly persuade Constitutional Court judges to act leniently towards former President Jacob Zuma.

Hlophe has taken the stand at the Judicial Conduct Tribunal investigating his conduct following a complaint filed by the apex court justices.

Justice John Hlophe said that he could not have been on a mission to influence any Constitutional Court judge as he would have had to know where they stood in the Jacob Zuma matter to do so.

In 2008, the apex court had to decide on a matter involving Zuma and arms company Thint for their role in the arms deal saga after the Supreme Court of Appeal found against them.

As the case was unfolding, Hlophe approached a number of the court’s lawyers on different occasions to discuss various matters, with the issue coming up in his engagements with Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jafta.

When evidence leader Advocate Ivy Tenga put it to Hlophe that he appeared under duress during the time, he denied this.

"From where I'm sitting, it looks like you are struggling. It looked like you were on a mission, like there was something pushing you at that time."

To which Hlophe responded: "I'm sorry but definitely no. There were so many other judges of the Constitutional Court that I met in that period of time."

Instead, Hlophe said that he was not aware of any rule at the time barring him from discussing cases with other judges as it was common to do so elsewhere.

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