Judge Hlophe row cost SA R6.8m

The government had spent R6.78 million on Western Cape Judge John Hlophe’s legal fees during his dispute with the judges of the Constitutional Court, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Monday (August 2, 2010).

“The total amount paid to date is R6 785 920,” Radebe said in reply to a written parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance, adding that there might be further costs.

The bitter wrangle over allegations by Constitutional Court judges that Hlophe sought to improperly influence them on matters relating to President Jacob Zuma’s now abandoned corruption case was likely to continue following a court ruling in April setting aside the Judicial Service Commission proceedings last year that cleared Hlophe.

The Cape High Court found that the Judicial Service Commission was not properly constituted when it heard the complaint because it excluded Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

The Judicial Service Commission was appealing the ruling.

Radebe said Hlophe’s legal fees for representation when he appeared before the Judicial Service Commission came to more than R2.2 million.

Legal representation for his appearances in court in various stages of the fight with the Constitutional Court and the Judicial Service Commission cost more than R4 million.

His failed court bid, along with the Judicial Service Commission, to keep the media out of hearings cost the state R559 291.

Radebe said his department paid for lawyers to fight Hlophe’s case because the issue arose from judicial work.

“The standing policy in my department at the time was that legal expenses incurred by a judicial officer, and which arise from judicial work while the judicial officer is still in office, shall be paid by the department,” the minister said.

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