Mogoeng under fire over Hlope

2011-11-20 14:01

Johannesburg - Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is under scrutiny for allowing Cape Judge President John Hlope to screen candidates while engaged in legal action over his conduct, according to reports on Sunday.

Retired Constitutional Court Justice Johann Kriegler sent three letters to Mogoeng in the past month objecting to Hlope sitting on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) when it interviewed potential judges in October, the Sunday Times reported.

Kriegler is the chairperson of advocacy group Freedom Under Law.

"To say that we were astounded would be an understatement: a person charged with the most serious allegations of both criminal conduct and gross misconduct as a judge was openly - and ostensibly with the consent of the chief justice, the ultimate arbiter of judicial propriety - screening candidates for their fitness for judicial office," said Kriegler.

The legal action dates back to 2008, when Constitutional Court justices charged Hlope for gross misconduct at the JSC.

Hlope was accused of attempting to influence judgements concerning corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.

Barnabus Xulu, Hlope's attorney, told the Sunday Times he was shocked to hear of the letters exchange but had been unable to speak to Hlope.

"What is strange and shocking in this whole thing is that there are judges who have chaired the JSC with complaints against them and Freedom Under Law was around. They never said a thing about it," Xulu said.

According to the newspaper, Mogoeng said in an email response to Kriegler that he would discuss the complaint with the JSC and Kriegler would receive a response after the next JSC meeting in April next year.

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