Hlophe 'still in the dark'

2009-08-24 11:27

Johannesburg - Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe was still waiting to hear whether the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) would investigate a complaint against him by Constitutional Court judges, his lawyer said on Monday.

"We are still in the dark," said Barnabas Xulu. "We have waited for more than a year, so we will just have to wait."

The JSC met last Saturday to decide whether submissions during a preliminary inquiry into the complaint, and a counter-complaint by Hlophe were enough motivation for a full investigation.

The commission said it had made a decision, but this has not yet been made public.

JSC spokesperson Advocate Marumo Moerane, who was on a three-person panel that heard submissions on the matter, was not immediately available to comment.

Hlophe was accused by the judges of discussing a judgment on President Jacob Zuma's now abandoned corruption charges, during conversation while visiting Judge Bess Nkabinde, and Acting Judge Chris Jafta, who had been seconded to the court from the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Political motive

Hlophe said he only spoke generally about the issue of privilege in the case, but the preliminary inquiry heard that the judges were concerned that he brought the matter up for discussion at all.

They lodged the complaint with the JSC last year, but Hlophe lodged a counter-complaint that they had made the matter public before he had a chance to present his side of the story.

The recent preliminary investigation was part of a court order that the matter be investigated anew after Hlophe could not be present at a previous hearing.

Hlophe, who was not nominated for chief justice as hoped by his supporters, alleged a political motive behind the complaint.