Hlophe may have to repay R10.5m

2011-06-07 21:27

Cape Town - The government will only continue to pay Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe's legal fees if he agrees to repay the R10.5m he has received so far, should he lose his Constitutional Court appeals, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Tuesday.

"They must make an undertaking that should they lose the constitutional bid, the state must be repaid," Radebe told a media briefing ahead of the justice budget vote in Parliament.

"That's all, that's the regulation, that's what we have done with everybody."

The director general of justice, Nonkululeko Sindane, said legal costs in the Hlophe saga "is actually sitting at R7m", plus R3.5m in fees incurred during the Judicial Service Commission's investigation into the misconduct complaint against him.

She suggested Hlophe would have to pay the state back the full R10.5m should he lose his latest bid to have the charge dating from 2008 set aside.

In April, the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside the JSC's decision to clear Hlophe of gross misconduct, saying it was unlawful.

The conclusion, reached in two separate and unanimous judgments, reopens the dispute pitting Hlophe against the Constitutional Court judges.

They complained he had sought to influence a ruling relating to the corruption charges that plagued President Jacob Zuma before the 2009 elections that brought him to office.

Hlophe has filed for appeal against both judgments, creating a conundrum for the judiciary by taking the matter back to the court where the complaint originated.

His lawyer, Barnabas Xulu, said last week that Hlophe had applied to the justice department for further funding to defend himself against a complaint brought by Freedom under Law at the end of May.

The legal advocacy group lodged a gross misconduct complaint against Hlophe, claiming he had made statements "unbecoming of a judge" while defending himself against the 2008 complaint by the Constitutional Court judges.

It said Hlophe was not fit to serve the public as a judge because of his "scandalous public utterances" about the judges.

- SAPA

Read more on:    john hlophe  |  jeff radebe  |  judiciary
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