Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe is stunned that the
tribunal investigating a complaint of gross misconduct against him has again been postponed, according to his lawyer.
But Johann Kriegler, retired judge of the Constitutional Court and chairperson of non-profit organisation Freedom Under Law (FUL), blamed the postponement squarely on Judge Hlophe.
“FUL is disgusted but not surprised. Hlophe has attempted for more than 10 years to defeat the attempts to bring him to justice. This is just the latest attempt,” said Kriegler.
Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, said the postponement was worrying because the matter had dragged on for so long.
“This is such an important issue that it needs to be brought to finality sooner rather than later. While we recognise and respect the reason for the postponement, we hope that the matter will be able to resume as soon as possible,” Naidoo said.
Retired judge Joop Labuschagne, chair of the Judicial Conduct Tribunal set up to hear the decade-old explosive complaints against Judge Hlophe, yesterday adjourned the matter to a yet-to-be decided date.
Judge Hlophe is being investigated over allegations that he sought to improperly influence two Constitutional Court judges, Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jafta, in former president Jacob Zuma’s case in 2008.
Justices Nkabinde and Jafta complained that Judge Hlophe had visited them in their chambers and tried to influence them to rule in Zuma’s favour.
If found guilty by the tribunal,
Judge Hlophe could become the second judge in democratic SA to face impeachment. Another tribunal recommended three months ago that Judge Nkola Motata be impeached for gross misconduct.
The postponement yesterday in Judge Hlophe’s matter was announced after Free State Judge Cagney Musi, one of three members of the panel, revealed he was recusing himself from the tribunal.
He referred to an application Judge Hlophe made for his recusal via an affidavit filed to the tribunal.
Judge Hlophe wanted Judge Musi recused because he had allegedly made some disparaging remarks while chatting at a social gathering with other judges in KwaZulu-Natal in July last year.
Judge Hlophe's attorney, Barnabas Xulu, told Independent Media the postponement was not the result they had sought in their application.