Judge Hlophe withdraws application to interdict suspension and impeachment
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WESTERN Cape Judge President John Hlophe has abandoned his application seeking to interdict his suspension from office and the institution of the impeachment process against him.
Now the stage is now set for Judge Hlophe, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Freedom Under Law (FUL) to agree on a timetable to exchange court papers before a court date for the hearing is determined.
This emerged when Judge Roland Sutherland read an order when Judge Hlophe’s urgent two-part application was heard earlier today.
The first part of his application sought to stop President Cyril Ramaphosa from suspending him and Parliament from instituting the impeachment process.
Hlophe also wants, in his second application, to review and set aside the decision of the JSC on the grounds that the judicial body was not properly constituted when it took a decision against him.
He cited the JSC, Ramaphosa, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola and National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as respondents.
This was after Mapisa-Nqakula last month received a letter from the then acting chairperson of the JSC, Justice Sisi Khampepe, confirming the commission’s decision to uphold the guilty finding of the Judicial Conduct Tribunal.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, which lasted less than an hour, Judge Sutherland said the court noted that Judge Hlophe had abandoned the relief he sought in Part A of his application.
“In the light of the disavowal of seeking cost by any of the respondents, all that is necessary for me is to note relief in Part A has been abandoned and withdrawn,” he said.
Judge Sutherland also said Part B of the application would be removed from the court roll today to allow Hlophe, the JSC and FUL representatives to engage with one another and prepare a timetable for exchange of affidavits and heads of arguments.
He ordered that once agreement has been reached, his office should be notified so that “I shall fix the earliest convenient date and allocate a judge to hear the matter”.
Judge Sutherland said the application by FUL to join the Part B of the application was postponed indefinitely and would be addressed as and when that initiative of FUL either re-enrolled or is to be argued at the same time as the main application.
He granted no costs for Wednesday’s application, but the costs incurred by FUL for the proceedings were reserved for determination at a later time.
Meanwhile, Mapisa-Nqakula has welcomed the abandonment and withdrawal of the urgent application by Judge Hlophe to interdict the National Assembly from going ahead with impeachment process.
“The Speaker had asserted that she will abide by the ruling of the Gauteng Division of the High Court on the matter,” spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
Independent Media reported earlier that Mapisa-Nqakula had in her explanatory affidavit contended that the impeachment proceedings, which are currently at the level of the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services for processing, will practically take place only after the current constituency period, which ends on November 3.
This, according to the Speaker, meant that Judge Hlophe could accordingly have no apprehension of the process proceeding until November.