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Should Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe be found guilty of gross misconduct, the final say on his fate will lie in the hands of the National Assembly.
In terms of the Judicial Service Commission Amendment Act, once the judicial conduct tribunal probing allegations of gross misconduct against Judge Hlophe had completed its task, it would be required to submit a report of its findings to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
Commission secretariat Sello Chiloane said the JSC would then schedule a meeting, before which Judge Hlophe would have a chance to make representations in light of the report.
At the meeting, the JSC would make a decision as to whether it was satisfied with the tribunal’s findings, as well as whether Judge Hlophe was indeed guilty of gross misconduct.
If this was the case, the matter would be referred to the National Assembly, which would make the actual decision as to his impeachment.
If Judge Hlophe was vindicated, however, that would be the end of the matter.
Judge Hlophe stands accused of approaching Constitutional Court justices Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jafta in their chambers in 2008, allegedly in an attempt to influence their decisions in matters involving corruption charges against Jacob Zuma, who was not yet president.
The 11 justices of the Concourt later lodged a collective complaint.
On Thursday, Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke was at the centre of heated arguments between Judge Hlophe’s legal team and lawyers for those who accused him of gross misconduct.
This came after Courtenay Griffiths QC, for Judge Hlophe, on Thursday accused Justice Moseneke of delaying tactics and failing to furnish him with crucial information requested nearly five years ago.
But advocate Gilbert Marcus SC, for the 11 Concourt judges who laid the complaint, said Justice Moseneke was a busy man who was doing everything in his power to attend to Griffiths’s request.
Barnabas Xulu, a member of Judge Hlophe’s legal team, told The Star last night that the information Griffiths was talking about related to the meetings Justice Moseneke had with justices Jafta and Nkabinde.
This was immediately after the judges complained that Judge Hlophe tried to sway them into making pro-Zuma rulings.
Xulu said Justice Moseneke had failed to respond to questions for nearly five years, saying he knew nothing about it.
In Kempton Park on Thursday, Griffiths again demanded the information from Marcus, who said Justice Moseneke would make it available as soon as he had time.
“In relation to a request for information, I have no idea. I have made it clear that the deputy chief justice is the second most senior judicial officer in the country and… He’s doing his best to accommodate this request in the time he has available to him,” said Marcus.
But Griffiths said Justice Moseneke’s busy schedule was none of his business.
“Quite frankly, we are not interested in their judicial duties, for example, those of the Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke.”
Despite Griffiths’s objections, tribunal president Judge Joop Labuschagne postponed the hearings “in the interest of all the parties”.