Judge Hlophe's fate in hands of MPs after JSC upholds impeachment recommendation

The JSC’s spokesperson, Advocate Dali Mpofu, said that it was now up to the National Assembly to follow the necessary legislative prescripts to either remove or retain Hlophe’s status as a judge.

FILE: Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - In an unprecedented decision, Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe’s fate now lies with the National Assembly following a decision by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to uphold a recommendation that he should be impeached.

The JSC released a statement on Wednesday night indicating that it had invited parties to show cause as to why Hlophe should or should not be suspended pending a decision by the National Assembly.

The tribunal sat late last year to hear arguments following a complaint by Constitutional Court judges that Hlophe had tried to interfere with a 2008 case against former President Jacob Zuma and arms manufacturer, Thint.

The JSC’s spokesperson, Advocate Dali Mpofu, said that it was now up to the National Assembly to follow the necessary legislative prescripts to either remove or retain Hlophe’s status as a judge.

This would be the first time that a judge is impeached in the history of South Africa.

"This is a very big decision because not only a judge president but no judge has been impeached in democratic South Africa, so this is the first time. There have been many complaints but all of them have never reached this stage, so we're all in unchartered territory."

Although Mpofu would not be drawn into the details of the vote split in the JSC regarding Hlophe, he indicated that the decision was not unanimous.

"When the views are sent to the National Assembly, we will send both the majority and minority opinions and of course after that, the process will be out of our hands."

For over a decade, Hlophe has had a dark cloud hanging over his head after he approached Constitutional Court judges to allegedly interfere with their decision regarding Zuma and Thint after the Supreme Court of Appeal found against them in the arms deal saga.

Hlophe is said to have approached two apex court justices on different occasions to discuss various issues, which included his emphasis on “sithembele kunina” – meaning we trust in you – regarding the Zuma/Thint matter.

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