Hlophe seeks funding to defend himself
Johannesburg - Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe is applying for funding through the justice department to defend himself against a new complaint lodged this week, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
"He needs to be advised on how to handle this thing," said Barnabas Xulu, his legal representative.
Xulu said Hlophe was waiting for a response from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) after the organisation Freedom Under Law (FUL) lodged a complaint against him on Monday.
"This thing may be just a frivolous complaint," said Xulu. "At this stage we have not been contacted by the JSC."
At the same time, Hlophe had to be prepared in case he needed legal representation, and that was why he had applied to the justice ministry for funds, said Xulu.
The legal advocacy group FUL lodged a "gross misconduct" complaint against Hlophe, claiming he had made statements "unbecoming of a judge" while defending himself against a 2008 complaint by the judges of the Constitutional Court.
The judges accused Hlophe of trying to sway the court into ruling in favour of President Jacob Zuma, who was at that stage faced possible corruption charges.
FUL said Hlophe was not fit to serve the public as a judge because of his "scandalous public utterances" about the judges of the Constitutional Court.
According to the Sunday Independent, FUL argued in its complaint that Hlophe had accused the judges of being "dishonest, untruthful, malicious, vindictive and driven by a political motive".
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) earlier this year set aside a JSC decision to dismiss both the complaint by Hlophe and a counter-complaint by him against the judges of the Constitutional Court.
The JSC said it would abide by the SCA ruling and that a judicial conduct panel would deal with the matter.
In 2007, Hlophe was questioned about his relationship with asset management company Oasis and his subsequent ruling that the company could sue Judge Siraj Desai.
At the time, the JSC, which probed payments Hlophe received from Oasis, found his failure to disclose the payments "inappropriate", but did not sanction him.