Tribunal recommended to investigate whether Hlophe should be impeached

2012-09-06 09:12

The Judicial Conduct Committee has recommended that a tribunal be appointed to investigate whether Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe should be impeached.

The issue involving the complaint against Hlophe by judges of the Constitutional Court has now dragged on for four years.

In 2008, two judges of the Constitutional Court alleged that Hlophe had tried to sway them in favour of Jacob Zuma, before he became president.

At the time, a case related to the corruption charges Zuma faced would be argued before the Constitutional Court.

In a press statement issued this morning, the Judicial Conduct Committee said it “considered that this complaint if established, will prima facie indicate gross misconduct which may lead to impeachment”.

The statement said that the committee held hearings last month, in which oral submissions were made by counsel on behalf of Hlophe.

It also considered written representations submitted on behalf of the judges of the Constitutional Court regarding the complaint.

The next step in the case will be for the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)to decide if a tribunal is to be established, which will investigate the complaint.

After the investigation, the tribunal will submit a report to the JSC, which has final say over impeachment.

The Judicial Conduct Committee also said a complaint against Hlophe by rights group Freedom Under Law could not be proceeded with.

The Freedom Under Law complaint related to comments Hlophe made about Constitutional Court judges in court papers.

Hlophe appears to have gotten lucky on this charge.

The committee said that, although the complaint could indicate gross misconduct, the legislation which governs the penalties Hlophe faces under this charge has since changed.

“This would ... expose the judge to complaints and penalties that were not there when the complaint arose,” it said.

The Supreme Court of Appeal last year ruled that the JSC’s decision that there was no wrongdoing on the part of Hlophe or the Constitutional Court judges, against whom Hlophe had laid a counter-complaint, was irrational.

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