No formal Hlophe complaint - lawyer

2013-09-30 14:01
John Hlophe (Picture: Sapa)

John Hlophe (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Constitutional Court judges Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde did not lodge a formal complaint against Cape Judge President John Hlophe, a tribunal heard on Monday.

"Where does this tribunal go from here when the two most important judges [Jafta and Nkabinde] in this matter are saying we are not coming because there is no complaint," Courtenay Griffiths, for Hlophe, asked.

"Both... made it clear they were not planning to pursue a complaint."

The tribunal could only continue on the existence of a valid complaint.

Judicial misconduct

Griffiths was arguing during a Judicial Service Commission (JSC) tribunal hearing into a complaint of judicial misconduct against Hlophe.

Hlophe allegedly tried to influence the two judges in a legal matter.

In 2008, Jafta and Nkabinde alleged that Hlophe had tried to influence them to rule in favour of President Jacob Zuma in his corruption case involving the multi-billion rand arms deal.

The judges regarded this as an improper attempt to influence the case and a complaint was lodged.

Hlophe, affronted that the judges had sent a copy of the complaint to the media before he had time to respond to it, laid a counter-complaint.

A lengthy stop-start parallel process of JSC hearings and court challenges ensued.

The matter was ultimately heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal with rulings in favour of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and lobby group Freedom Under Law.

Last October Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said he would formally appoint tribunal members.

Faces impeachment

Hlophe faces impeachment if found guilty.

Evidence leader Xoliswa Khanyile told the tribunal that the complaint was lodged by all the Constitutional Court judges and not just Jafta and Nkabinde.

It was a collective decision.

"They [Jafta and Nkabinde] said they had no interest in the matter but if they were subpoenaed they would come [testify].

Khanyile said she still intended calling them to testify.

Griffiths said there was no affidavit in line with the Judicial Service Commission Act amended in 2010.

"A complaint must be lodged in terms of an affidavit.

"There is no affidavit or confirmed statement from any of them," he said.

Should someone decide to complain about a judge, that person should be willing to "put their name to it".

Affidavits had to be submitted according to the new rules.

"How do we proceed from here?" he asked.



Read more on:    jsc  |  john hlophe  |  judiciary

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