Ruling on Hlophe's son expected soon
Cape Town - The Bellville Regional Court is to rule on Tuesday whether fraud and other charges against Thuthuke Hlophe, the son of Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, are malicious.
Thuthuke was to have gone on trial on Monday on six counts of fraud, three of theft, three of uttering (presenting) forged documents, one of defeating the ends of justice and one violation of the Identification Act.
However, before prosecutor Ezmeralda Johnson could put the charges to him, defence counsel Thembalihle Sidaki said Johnson had wanted to add a 15th charge, involving an alleged conspiracy to commit fraud, but withdrew it after the defence requested details.
Johnson told the court she did so because furnishing the defence with details would have delayed the case.
Sidaki said the addition and subsequent withdrawal of the conspiracy charge had involved Hlophe in an unnecessary and costly consultation with his lawyers.
Johnson's reason for the withdrawal of the conspiracy "namely that to have provided details would have delayed the case" was not reasonable, and prejudiced his client.
"Now that the State has been held to account for the conspiracy charge, the prosecutor has capitulated and shown a degree of unethical behaviour," said Sidaki.
He contended that the State was "pursuing this case maliciously", and said the withdrawal of the conspiracy charge had been "done in an irregular manner".
This was the State's way of finding a way out of having to provide the defence with details of the charge.
This "tainted the intention of the State", he said.
Johnson countered that use of the words "unethical" and "malicious" were serious allegations.
"The defence resorts to the use of these offensive words just because they requested details of the conspiracy charge, and the State responded by not proceeding with it."
The defence's request for details of the conspiracy charge had given the State only one day to respond, and the State had exercised its discretion to rather not proceed with the additional charge.
"There was nothing unethical about it, and the withdrawal of the conspiracy charge does not mean that the State is bringing a malicious prosecution," Johnson said. "The State is not in bad faith."
Sidaki asked the court to pronounce on the validity of the charges before Hlophe pleaded to them.