Zuma appointees swung vote for Hlophe

2009-09-01 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — President Jacob Zuma’s new appointees to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) swung the debate in favour of a decision not to continue with investigations regarding allegations that cape Judge President John Hlophe inappropriately tried to influence the judges of the Constitutional Court.

The decision was announced on Friday, two weeks after it was made behind closed doors. Four of the JSC complaints committee’s 10 members felt that the complaints against Hlophe should be investigated further.

They were North and South Gauteng Judge President Bernard Ngoepe, Court of Appeals Judge President Lex Mpati, Pietermaritzburg attorney Julian von Klemperer and legal academic Engela Schlemmer.

The six others decided that there was “insufficient evidence” for the process to continue. Three of these, advocates Ishmael Semenya SC, Vas Soni SC and the Black Lawyers’ Association (BLA) president Andiswa Ndoni, were recently appointed to the JSC by Zuma.

The other three were Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, advocate Marumo Moerane SC and Durban lawyer Mvuseni Ngubane, a former BLA president.

The JSC,yesterday yet again refused to officially confirm the names of the JSC members who decided not to continue with investigations into the allegations of Hlophe’s gross misconduct.

Moerane, the JSC spokesman, would not confirm whether the 10 members of the JSC’s complaints committee were divided 6-4 regarding the decision.

“It’s not relevant whether it was a 6-4, 6-5 (sic) or 9-1 division, it’s a decision by the JSC,” said Moerane.

However, reliable sources confirmed the division.

Ndoni did not respond to messages, and other members of the committee could not be reached. One source close to the JSC said that “at least, thank heavens, it wasn’t a racially divided decision”.

The drama surrounding Hlophe will once again play out on Saturday afternoon, when the JSC interviews him for a seat on the Constitutional Court.

Hlophe was not back at work yesterday, with his spokesman saying he was waiting for official word from Radebe.

 

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