Embattled Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Embattled Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Parliament confirms receipt of Judge John Hlophe impeachment matter

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Aug 27, 2021

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Cape Town - Parliament has confirmed that Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has received a letter from the Judicial Service Commission regarding the impeachment of Judge President John Hlophe.

In a statement Parliament’s spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo said the Speaker was receiving advice on how the national legislature will deal with the reports from the JSC.

Mothapo said Mapisa-Nqakula had received a letter from acting deputy chief justice and acting chairperson of the JSC Sisi Khampepe regarding the matter.

“The Speaker is receiving advice on the appropriate manner Parliament should deal with the reports, said Mothapo.

The JSC said it delivered the majority and minority decisions to the parties and referred the matter to the National Assembly.

This comes after the JSC voted that Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe should be removed from office due to gross misconduct. This comes after the Judicial Conduct Tribunal in April found the 62-year-old to be guilty of trying to influence the outcomes of former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption charges in 2008.

Hlophe allegedly told Justice Bess Nkabinde that the matter needed to be decided “properly” and during what was described as a casual conversation with Justice Chris Jaftha, Hlophe uttered the Zulu phrase “sesithembele kinina”, which when translated as per the JSC documents alludes to you are our last hope or which Hlophe said in the context of their discussion "was a Zulu phrase he used to express his view ‘that the issue of privilege would receive satisfactory attention from the court’."

The JSC has invited the parties to show cause why it should or should not advise the President to suspend Judge Hlophe pending the finalisation of the matter by the National Assembly.

Findings of the majority and minority were by the JSC released on Thursday night.

The majority concluded that Hlophe’s conduct breached the provision of section 165 of the Constitution in that he improperly attempted to influence Nkabinde and Jafta to violate their oaths of office; his conduct seriously threatened and interfered with the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of the Constitutional Court; and his conduct threatened public confidence in the judicial system.

The minority however argued that the interactions between Hlophe and the two justices – Nkabinde and Jafta – regarding the Zuma and Thinth cases were brief and general.

Hlophe denied the claims that he tried to influence the outcome of the cases.

The findings of the minority include that the Tribunal erred in placing reliance upon the evidence of Jafta and Nkabinde in support of its conclusion that Hlophe is guilty of gross misconduct. “The versions of the two Justices which were, in material respects, disputed by Hlophe JP, are inherently improbable. They should not have formed the basis for Hlophe JP’s guilty findings by the Tribunal.

“In any event, Hlophe JP was not aware of the rule prohibiting him to discuss the legal principles involved in the matter pending before the Justices. Such a rule did not exist at the time when the events giving rise to the complaint arose, and Hlophe JP was not aware of its existence.

“In the result, the Tribunal’s finding that Hlophe JP was guilty of gross misconduct should be rejected,” said the minority in conclusion.

Parliament confirmed that it received a letter from Justice Khampepe, on the JSC’s decision regarding complaints by Justices of the Constitutional Court against Judge President John Hlophe.

Mapisa-Nqakula also received the majority and minority decisions of the JSC and the JCT's report.

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Political Bureau

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