- Judge President of the Western Cape John Hlophe has called for a judicial commission of inquiry into the mounting claims against him.
- The last straw appears to be a claim that he was allegedly plotting to have Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath killed.
- Hlophe's lawyer said he denies the ongoing allegations levelled at him.
Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe has called for a judicial commission of inquiry to clear up the allegations against him.
"[The] Judge President undertakes to participate fully in this judicial commission of inquiry to assist in getting to the bottom of this corrupt attack on him and ultimately on judicial independence," his lawyer Barnabus Xulu said in a statement announcing the request.
The last straw appears to be a claim that he was allegedly plotting to have Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath killed.
"We have reflected with Judge President Hlophe on the implications of these malicious reports about him and can only emphasise the gravity of the allegations – not only for him as the person falsely implicated in the reports – but for judicial independence and the integrity of the judicial office," stated Xulu.
"Given the gravity of the allegations, the Judge President calls for a swift public and transparent investigation of the issues by a judicial commission of inquiry."
Xulu said the first time Hlope heard of the assassination plot claim was through media reports which were based on a Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services' (JICS) probe into a claim made by an informant, who is serving a sentence in prison.
Xulu said Hlope questioned the veracity of those interviewed by the JICS, and reiterated that Hlope criticised the "unfortunate insinuations" contained in the JICS report. He maintained that Hlope has not been involved in any assassination plot.
Hlophe has been a judge for some 26 years and a Judge President for some 20 years, he added.
"Simply put, the allegations that Judge President Hlophe is involved in any criminal activities, including the hiring of assassins to kill the Deputy Judge President, are false."
In Hlophe's view, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng should also not have been party to the assassination plot investigation because he may also be a witness in the other allegations against him, which revolve around the dispute between Goliath and Hlophe.
Xulu said that, on 31 August this year, Hlophe lodged a complaint of "gross judicial misconduct" against Mogoeng, relating to the "biased manner in which he handled the complaint by Goliath DJP against him and the fact that the Chief Justice had adjudicated a complaint in which he was potentially a witness to the allegations".
In response, Judicial Service Commission spokesperson Sello Chiloane said to News24: "I can confirm that a complaint lodged by Judge President Hlophe against the Chief Justice has been received and will be considered by the Judicial Conduct Committee."
Hlophe was accused by Goliath of sidelining her in case allocations, in favour of Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe, and of cherry picking judges for the Earthlife challenge to a nuclear deal.
The ripple effects in the court - which hears the province's murder, rape and gang cases, as well as civil cases against or by the government - have included an allegation that Judge Mushtaq Parker was assaulted, allegedly by Hlophe, and that some judges refused to speak to Parker for alleging this.
Hlophe also has a 2008 misconduct allegation that has not been finalised, among other allegations levelled at him.
In that matter, he is accused of allegedly trying to influence Constitutional Court Justices Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde by popping into their offices and allegedly inquiring about their progress in a judgment relating to former President Jacob Zuma's challenge to the veracity of search warrants in the earlier days of the corruption allegations he faces.
That matter is set to be heard in October.