Cape Town - Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has said he was happy that the hearing of Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe was finally under way, despite taking so long.
On Friday, he said despite the matter taking many years to be heard by the Judicial Conduct Tribunal, it was finally being attended to with judges giving evidence.
The hearing into Hlope’s fitness to hold office started on Monday. He is accused of trying to influence two Constitutional Court judges to rule in favour of then ANC president Jacob Zuma in 2008.
Mogoeng said this was one of three matters against judges that have taken long to be heard. One of these is against Judge Nkola Motata in Gauteng, who was convicted of drunk driving in 2009.
The Chief Justice added many other complaints against judges were being heard swiftly.
“Turning to Judge President Hlophe, I don’t think broadly speaking the mere fact that allegations against him have been made is here or there. You see, we have been saying to the public, as the Chief Justice I don’t have the power to interfere and I don’t.
“If people want to have the power, they must speak to Parliament to amend the Constitution and the Judicial Service Act or the Superior Courts Act to give the Chief Justice the power to intervene when there are allegations in any court. I don’t have that power and I am not going to try and look powerful and responsive and exercise the power I don’t have because it is against the doctrine of legality.”
He said the public should be happy the matter was now being heard.
“So, we should be happy as the South African public, though the matter took long. We should be pleased the Judicial Conduct Tribunal sat and judges testified and the Judge President testified. We are held accountable.”
Justice Mogoeng said the public would have been worried if the matter had been swept under the carpet.