Home South African Judicial Service Commission meets to discuss Judge Hlophe’s suspension

Judicial Service Commission meets to discuss Judge Hlophe’s suspension

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The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has confirmed that a meeting to decide whether Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe should be recommended for suspension will be held virtually on Monday.

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe. File picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has confirmed that a meeting to decide whether Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe should be recommended for suspension will be held virtually on Monday.

In April last year, the Judicial Conduct Tribunal (JCT) found him guilty of gross misconduct after allegations were levelled against him claiming that he tried to influence the outcome of a pending Constitutional Court matter involving former president Jacob Zuma in 2008.

Hlophe then submitted an application to the Gauteng High Court which sought to set aside the decision of the JCT but this was subsequently dismissed by a full bench. This has now resulted in the JSC moving on tabling the issue, said the JSC’s advocate Sesi Baloyi.

“The discussion really is in light of the high court having dismissed his review application. What we will do as the JSC is about whether we recommend or do not recommend to the president whether he should be suspended,” Baloyi said.

Last year the matter was referred to Parliament, where the National Assembly was set to decide on whether Judge Hlophe should be removed from office.

More recently, the JSC had approached the Constitutional Court along with Judge Hlophe to make submissions on the decision. In response, Judge Hlophe’s lawyer, Barnabas Xulu, wrote to the JSC requesting certain information regarding the process.

Xulu had questioned the structure of the JSC as it had bearing on the validity of the decision – one of the main issues in the appeal.

“Those questions are core to the whole matter, if we went to court because we were challenging how they were sitting when they made a final decision on the referral of the matter to Parliament for impeachment, how can they sit and consider the suspension as the same body?”

Xulu also questioned the timing of the meeting in light of public pressure from Freedom Under Law (FUL) to bring the process to a head.

Baloyi, however, said that the meeting had nothing to do with FUL’s public outcry.

“In the high court, the JSC took the position that it would suspend any decision, pending the outcome of the high court application and in fact the JSC had specifically said we are not including any appeals but the expectation was that once the high court had decided the matter, then the JSC would meet and consider the issue either way,” Baloyi said.

“You can expect the issue of his appeal would be one of the issues that has to be addressed in the meeting, whichever way it is addressed, but it will come up,” Baloyi said.

She said that in terms of the Constitution, politicians are not part of the process but the provincial premier would be part of the meeting along with all other commissioners, subject to recusal.

FUL have also written to the JSC requesting the the commission to consider their submissions.

The organisation called for Judge Hlophe to be suspended with immediate effect.

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