The mudslinging between Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, his wife Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe and his deputy Patricia Goliath has hit a new low. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko/African News Agency
Cape Town - The mudslinging between Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, his wife Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe and his deputy Patricia Goliath has hit a new low after he levelled counter accusations against Goliath and also lodged a complaint against her at the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

This as the commission decided to refer the charges both from Hlophe and Goliath to its Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC).

The JCC has called on the two to submit representations on or before Monday, before the matter is heard by the committee at the Constitutional Court next Friday.

According to a statement released on the progress made, the committee said it would deliberate on whether one or both complaints made by the high court judges at loggerheads should be investigated further by a tribunal.

Judge Goliath has accused Judge Hlophe of gross misconduct in both his personal and work life.

Judge Goliath alleges that Judge Hlophe tried to influence the appointment of judges assigned to the matter pertaining to a legal challenge to the Russian nuclear deal.

Judge Goliath also accused Salie-Hlophe of having an undue amount of influence because of her marriage to the judge president.

Verbal and physical assault allegations against Judge Hlophe towards another judge in the division have also been made.

Last week, Judge Hlophe submitted a 100-page affidavit refuting claims made in the 14-page affidavit by his deputy last month, to the JSC. Judge Hlophe called the complaints made against him “all the hallmarks of a paranoid judge with little appreciation of collegiality, restraint, composure and confidentiality”.

He also accused Judge Goliath of intentionally “leaking” her affidavit to the media in order to arouse public disapproval of him and to prompt for his suspension.

“This was done to advance personal interests that would follow my anticipated suspension or removal. The leaking was not done to inform the public on matters of public interest but was a malicious and bad faith attempt to generate public outrage, lynching and condemnation of my leadership of the division that would support calls for my immediate suspension and removal,” Judge Hlophe said.

Chairperson of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa Craig Watt-Pringle said the accusations and counter accusations of gross misconduct made by the two most senior judges were damaging to the reputation of the judiciary and need to be addressed without undue delay.

“I therefore welcome the fact that the JSC is dealing expeditiously with these complaints and that the JCC has advised the public of progress made and of the next steps to be taken in the matter.

“It is hoped that the committee will continue to keep the public informed as matters progress,” said Watt-Pringle.

“One of the steps that could conceivably follow upon the sitting of the JCC would be a request to the president to suspend one or more of the judges, pending finalisation of the process which has now been initiated.”

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