Hoffman takes advice on ruling

2013-09-10 16:17

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Johannesburg - Advocate Paul Hoffman is taking advice on the Judicial Conduct Committee's dismissal of his complaint about Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's remarks on transformation, he said on Tuesday.

"I have studied [the decision] and I'm taking advice. I am now waiting for that advice", said Hoffman, who is director of the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa.

He was speaking after the committee's finding was announced on Tuesday.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) informed Mogoeng on Monday that a two-member panel had decided Hoffman's complaint should be dismissed.

The complaint was made about comments Mogoeng made while addressing Advocates for Transformation in Cape Town in July, and a remark Mogoeng allegedly made to Hoffman in The Hague, also in July.

Hoffman's complaint included allegations of contempt of court and of attempting to defeat the ends of justice, which could be construed as gross misconduct.

The institute contended that this could constitute grounds to justify Mogoeng's impeachment.

In Mogoeng's Cape Town speech on transformation he was reported as saying: "The apparent discomfort with the progress we are making in transforming the judiciary... must be dealt with decisively.

"And, for the record, many white males have been recommended for appointment by the JSC over the years. It is for them and those who know them better to say whether they are 'executive toys'."

In The Hague, he allegedly said to Hoffman: "You can continue to challenge me, but you will continue to be frustrated".


The committee's panel found that the complaint did not fall within the parameters of Section 14(4) of the Judicial Service Commission Act.

Section 15(2) of the act stipulates that complaints against judges, which do not fall within the parameters of Section 14(4) should be summarily dismissed.

"It was perfectly legitimate for [Mogoeng] to participate in a debate about transformation of the judiciary and to express his views on what he perceives to be resistance to it," the panel said in its report.

"His frankly expressed views were bound to sit uncomfortably with sections of the legal profession and the judiciary, but that cannot be said to undermine the standing and integrity of the judiciary."

The panel also found that, as head of the judiciary, Mogoeng could not avoid participating in discourse around transformation of the legal profession and the judiciary.

It found Hoffman's complaint that Mogoeng had descended into the political arena as "rather disingenuous".

"As head of the Judicial Services Commission, he was not only entitled to articulate the views and position of this body on the matter, but also to defend it."

The panel found there was no basis for Hoffman's complaint that Mogoeng was in contempt of court or attempting to defeat the ends of justice, as Mogoeng did not mention a particular case in his speech.

Regarding Hoffman's complaint about the comment Mogoeng allegedly made in The Hague, the panel said that without context the words were meaningless.

"The complaint that the remark constitutes a violation of some or other constitutional right is simply far-fetched."

"... The complainant [Hoffman] cannot engage in what appears to be provocative conduct towards the respondent [Mogoeng] and then turn around and complain that the resultant confrontation will prejudice his future appearances before the Constitutional Court."

Read more on:    jsc  |  mogoeng mogoeng  |  paul hoffman  |  johannesburg  |  judiciary

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