Hlophe son's case - magistrate pulls out

2012-03-13 18:03

Cape Town - The magistrate presiding over the fraud case involving Thuthuka Hlophe - the son of Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe - withdrew from the case on Tuesday.

Magistrate Susan Smith first ruled that defence allegations that the charges were maliciously brought, and that prosecutor Ezmarelda Johnson had behaved in an unethical and irregular manner, were unfounded.

She added: "I have no doubts as to the validity of the charges, and there are no grounds to say that the State was malicious in bringing the charges, or that the prosecutor behaved in an unethical or irregular manner."

She said the request by defence counsel Thembalihle Sidaki for the court to rule on the validity of the charges meant that she had had to peruse documents dealing with the merits of the case.

This resulted in her now having pre-trial knowledge of the merits of the case, which meant that she could no longer preside in the case, and that she was obliged to recuse herself.

She said she would have to inform the Western Cape president of the regional court of the development, to enable him to allocate another magistrate to the case.

The trial is now expected to begin on Wednesday, before Magistrate Kenny Pieterse, 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.

Smith said the prosecutor was accused of unethical and irregular behaviour for adding a 15th charge - conspiracy to commit fraud - and then withdrawing the charge after the defence had requested further particulars about it.

Smith said the State was under no obligation to give reasons for its actions, and that the prosecutor had the right to decide the charges.

Although under no obligation to do so, the prosecutor had nevertheless explained the withdrawal of the conspiracy count - that to have provided the defence with the details requested would have delayed the proceedings.

Smith said the arguments presented by Sidaki, about the prosecution itself being malicious, and the prosecutor behaving in an unethical and irregular manner, had no basis in law.

  • kayley.segal - 2012-03-13 18:15


  • Erich - 2012-03-13 18:23

    Recusal is the easy way out. Knowing to what extremes the JP is capable of, it would be a nightmare for any Cape magistrate to hear this case. They should consider getting a magistrate from another division.

      Cracker - 2012-03-13 19:45

      If the magistrate did not recuse herself it would have given rise to so many extra (unnecessary, but still)excuses later on to further find reasons to postpone the matter at various levels. PLACE THE EVIDENCE BEFORE THE COURT AND GET IT OVER WITH. In the meanwhile the justice system is losing its credibility while the lawyers and the big wigs are playing their games and tarnishing the image of the system. Once more, F.CK the rest of us, even while the same lawyers who should be thankful for the very system they are f.cking are doing very well for themselves, thank you! The games must stop. If it requires serious legislation and even amendments to the Constitution to make it clear that certain games are not acceptable in the application of our freedoms and expectations, then the political parties in Parliament must take the necessary steps.

      Helmut - 2012-03-13 20:33

      Hlope sen. is a big buddy of our uncle Jacob. Add it all up and what do you get?

  • Cracker - 2012-03-13 19:16

    This is not how the justice system should operate. Review it. Not to take away rights or freedoms but to prevent abuse of the system. And fire all the incompetents supposedly entrusted to enforce the legal system in all its aspects from start to finish.

  • Mantsho - 2012-03-13 20:20

    No smoke without a fire. Banana republic we are going.

  • John - 2012-03-14 14:44

    What she did was ethical and correct. Had she continued with the trial, at the end, the defense would have accused her of being prejudiced, as she had prior knowledge of the case. She has closed a loop-hole which would have been used after the facts.

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