ConCourt won’t hear Hlophe matter

2012-03-30 11:12

The Constitutional Court has ruled that it is not in the interest of justice for it to hear the case of Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe – in which its own judges are involved.

As the Constitutional Court has now declined to hear the case, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgments will stand.

This means the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will have to reconsider Hlophe’s case.

The case relates to a 2008 judicial misconduct complaint laid by judges of the Constitutional Court against Hlophe.

Two judges of the court alleged that Hlophe had approached them in their chambers and attempted to influence them in a decision the court was set to make in the corruption case against Jacob Zuma.

Hlophe subsequently laid a counter-complaint against the judges of the court, saying they had violated his rights by releasing a press statement on the complaints.

Although the JSC cleared Hlophe and the justices of the court of any wrongdoing, these hearings were taken on review by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and rights organisation Freedom Under Law.

Both court judgments set aside the JSC’s proceedings.

In a unanimous judgment read by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng today, the Constitutional Court ruled that Hlophe had already had the benefit of appeal to the SCA and that it was not in the interest of justice for the matter to remain pending.

“Although the parties have consented to the conflicted judges’ (five of the court’s judges – forced to sit in the matter for the court to be able to function – were involved with the complaint lodged against Hlophe) sitting in the present matter, regard must still be had to the fact that they would ordinarily have to recuse themselves.

For this reason, this Court should deny leave to appeal to preserve the fairness of its own processes,” the court found.

It rejected argument made by Hlophe’s lawyers that judges of the court could recuse themselves and that Zuma should then appoint acting judges.

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