Suspend WC Judge President John Hlophe immediately, says DA
Johannesburg - DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has called on the Judicial Service Commission to immediately suspend Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe following allegations of gross misconduct, nepotism and abuse of power leveled at him.
Steenhuisen said the allegations faced by Hlophe were a threat to the credibility and independence of the judiciary at large, and said they had to be taken seriously.
Hlophe is at loggerheads with his deputy, Judge Patricia Goliath, who has recently written to the JSC outlining complaints of verbal abuse and gross misconduct. The letter was penned last week, January 15.
Hlophe’s wife, Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe, is also subject to the complaint.
Goliath was appointed as the deputy judge president three years ago. Among the issues at the centre of her complaint about Hlophe, is that his wife received preferential treatment.
Goliath also said in her affidavit that the judge president had allegedly verbally and physically abused colleagues, contributing to a culture of fear and intimidation at the organisation.
She also accused the Western Cape’s top jurist of advancing his personal agenda in the workplace, among which, was his appointing of his wife to the murder trial of Jason Rohde..
Steenhuisen said there was enough evidence to warrant Hlophe’s immediate suspension.
“This fresh slew of allegations must be swiftly investigated in order to restore decorum, respect and the rule of law to the Western Cape High Court. The latest complaint laid against Hlophe by his deputy, paints a grim picture of a court division that has all but been captured by Hlophe and his wife.
“Hlophe has a long and tainted history of alleged misconduct, including the infamous 2008 complaint of gross misconduct against him by Constitutional Court judges after he allegedly approached several judges in an attempt to improperly influence the court to reach decisions favourable to former president Jacob Zuma.
“12 years later, Hlophe has not been held accountable and continues at the helm of the Western Cape High Court where he wields influence for political gain,” said Steenhuisen.
Steenhuisen said the DA had long-held the view that the judge president was influencing the appointment of judges to politically sensitive matters.
“On several occasions the Western Cape government has been on the wrong end of legally questionable judgments, only later to have such judgments overturned on appeal to a higher court.
“Our courts remain the guardians of the Constitution and the rule of law, and a bulwark against abuse of power by any individual. An independent judiciary underpins a capable democratic state and when a court’s independence is brought into question, such allegations must be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” he said.IOL