Judicial Conduct Tribunal finds Judge Hlophe guilty of gross misconduct

In 2008, justices reported to the JSC that Judge Hlophe had approached Justice Bess Nkabinde and Justice Chris Jafta and attempted to improperly influence them in a pending case regarding Jacob Zuma and the company Thint.

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

JOHANNESBURG – The Judicial Conduct Tribunal has unanimously found Western Cape judge president John Hlophe guilty of gross misconduct.

The tribunal has compiled a report on a complaint lodged by the justices of the Constitutional Court against Hlophe.

In 2008, justices reported to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that Judge Hlophe had approached Justice Bess Nkabinde and Justice Chris Jafta and attempted to improperly influence them in a pending case regarding Jacob Zuma and the company Thint.

READ: Hlophe denies he tried to convince ConCourt judges to be lenient with Zuma

The tribunal has found he breached the provision of Section 165 of the Constitution in that he improperly attempted to influence the two justices of the Constitutional Court to violate their oaths of office.

It's also found that his conduct seriously threatened and interfered with the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of the Constitutional Court and added to this, his conduct threatened public confidence in the judicial system.

The tribunal report has been submitted to the chairperson of the JSC for consideration.

GOLIATH VS HLOPHE

In 2020, Deputy Western Cape High Court judge president Patricia Goliath said Hlophe tried to influence the appointment of judges in a 2015 case involving former President Jacob Zuma.

In her 15-page complaint, Goliath claimed Hlope believed criticism levelled against Zuma was unwarranted.

Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to interfere in the Earthlife Africa matter in 2015, in which the government's nuclear procurement processes were declared unlawful and set aside.

Goliath has been involved in a prolonged public spat with the Western Cape's Judge President John Hlophe, accusing him last year of gross misconduct.

Hlophe later called for a judicial commission on inquiry after the compilation of a report by the JSC following an investigation into an alleged plot to assassinate Deputy Judge President Goliath.

_LISTEN: Hlophe responds to assassination allegations _

HLOPHE NOT FIT TO BE A JUDGE

More recently, retired Constitutional Court Justice Johann Kriegler said the decision to dismiss allegations brought forward by former parliamentary legal advisor Advocate Nthuthuzelo Vanara that former State Security Minister Bonani Bongo tried to offer him a bribe in 2017 to derail its inquiry into Eskom showed Hlope was not fit to be a judge.

ALSO READ: Former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo cleared of corruption

Freedom Under Law has also weighed in on the decision, calling for the judge’s suspension.

LISTEN: Kreigler calls for Hlophe to be suspended

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