WC Judge President Hlophe's conduct was an attempt to defeat justice - JSC

This scathing finding is contained in the majority decision of the commission which was published on Thursday night, detailing the reasons behind its referral of Hlophe to the National Assembly for impeachment.

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

JOHANNESBURG- The Judicial Service Commission said that Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe’s conduct fell short of the standard required of a judge and was an attempt to defeat or obstruct the administration of justice.

This scathing finding is contained in the majority decision of the commission which was published on Thursday night, detailing the reasons behind its referral of Hlophe to the National Assembly for impeachment.

Hlophe was found guilty of gross misconduct – a dismissible offence for judges in South Africa after he tried to sway the views of two Constitutional Court judges to favour former President Jacob Zuma and arms manufacturer, Thint, in a 2008 matter.

The JSC majority decision concluded that Judge President John Hlophe’s actions constituted serious interference with the constitutionally protected independence of the judiciary.

Hlophe approached Constitutional Court justices Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jafta to express his unhappiness with the judgment of the Supreme Court Of Appeal, which found against Zuma and the French arms company, imploring them to “correctly decide” as “there was no case against Zuma”.

The JSC decision stated that as a senior long-standing judge and a former academic, Hlophe had thorough knowledge of the Constitution and principles of judicial independence. It adds that his conduct fell short of a judge and threatened and interfered with the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of the Constitutional Court while breaching the principle that no one should attempt to interfere with how judges conduct their cases and make decisions.

The National Assembly will have to vote on whether Hlophe should be impeached as recommended.

The law dictates that such a vote only passes through a two-thirds majority, after which the president can formally remove Hlophe from office.

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