Parliament to proceed with impeachment of Judges Hlope and Motata on Budget Day

Judges John Hlope and Nkola Motata will face impeachment in Parliament in February. File Picture

Judges John Hlope and Nkola Motata will face impeachment in Parliament in February. File Picture

Published Feb 1, 2024


National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has confirmed the impeachment of suspended Western Cape Judge President John Hlope and retired Gauteng judge Nkola Motata will continue on February 21.

Mapisa-Nqakula said despite February 21 being the day of the Budget, members of the National Assembly will meet after Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has delivered his speech to vote on the removal of judges Hlope and Motata.

Parliament requires a two-thirds majority to remove a judge from office.

The National Assembly’s portfolio committee on justice finalised its report last year after it found both judges guilty of gross misconduct and that they needed to be removed from office.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Narend Singh said they were concerned that the voting on the removal of Hlope and Motata happens on the same day as the Budget.

Mapisa-Nqakula told the programming committee on Thursday this matter was not raised in the chief whips’ forum and the report she received was that the voting will happen on February 21.

Parliament’s legal advisers also said the National Assembly can go ahead and vote on the matter, as there was no interdict that stops it from doing so.

Judge Hlope said this week that he has filed papers in the High Court to prevent his impeachment.

But Mapisa-Nqakula said there was no court order that prevents them from voting on the matter.

“Unless there is another development, but for now everything points to February 21 being the day for the discussion of the matter and for everything else to be done.

“There are concerns by Singh that they are concerned about the matter being dealt with on the day of the Budget vote. Unfortunately, this has not arisen at the chief whips’ meeting. I am sure the chief whips would have discussed the matter. For now, the report I have is that we have agreed that we will proceed on February 21,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.

Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso also said the plan was to have the impeachment proceedings on February 21.

“Legal services can say more on court processes, but the position is that unless there is a court order, the National Assembly will proceed,” said Xaso.

Singh said he was also of the view the impeachment can only be halted if there was a court order.

Hlope was found guilty of gross misconduct for trying to influence judges of the Constitutional Court over cases involving former president Jacob Zuma.

Motata was found guilty of drunk driving after he crashed his luxury vehicle on a boundary wall of a house in Johannesburg in 2007.

Motata, who retired in 2017, was initially fined R1 million by the Judicial Service Commission, but Freedom Under Law took the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal because it believed he committed gross misconduct.

The SCA found in favour of Freedom Under Law and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo referred the matter to Parliament for impeachment.

The committee said at the time it was the first time in the country’s history that judges have been impeached.