Home South African Parliamentary committee recommends removal of judges Hlophe and Motata

Parliamentary committee recommends removal of judges Hlophe and Motata

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Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services has recommended that judges John Hlophe and Nkola Motata be removed from office.

Suspended Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe and retired Judge Nkola Motata face removal from office. File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

PARLIAMET’S portfolio committee on justice and correctional services has recommended that judges John Hlophe and Nkola Motata be removed from office.

The two judges faced impeachment after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) sent a report to Parliament a few months ago.

Members of the justice committee found on Wednesday that both Hlophe and Motata had committed gross misconduct and should be removed from office.

The chairperson of the committee, Bulelani Magwanishe, said the process has come to an end.

“’The committee, by majority, will recommend that Judge John Mandlakayise Hlophe be removed from office,” said Magwanishe.

Political parties agreed to the removal, except for the EFF.

Hlophe’s impeachment follows an incident that happened in 2008 in which he tried to influence judges of the Constitutional Court to rule in favour of former president Jacob Zuma.

ANC MP Qubudile Dyantyi said all the facts have been addressed by the committee and they should recommend to the National Assembly that Judge Hlophe be removed from office.

“As far as I am concerned the matter is settled. Our role is to apply our minds. Let us recommend to the national assembly that Judge Hlophe be removed for gross misconduct,” said Dyantyi.

But EFF MP Busisiwe Mkhwebane said the process was not fair, as Hlophe has appealed his removal by the JSC to the court.

She said the committee can also plead with the Department of Justice and Correctional Services to assist Hlophe with funding for the appeal.

“I am still repeating that this matter is in court. The appeal has been granted. Let’s give the appeal an opportunity. Let’s make sure he is properly funded to defend his case. It will not be fair to Hlophe if the matter is in court and not finalised,” said Mkhwebane.

She said Hlophe has challenges with the Department of Justice refusing to pay for his appeal.

“Why Hlophe must pay from his pocket when the State has been paying. Let us intervene as a committee,” said Mkhwebane.

Werner Horn of the DA said they were faced with a situation where the appeal was going nowhere since Hlophe had no funds to appeal.

On Judge Motata, the committee also agreed that he should be removed.

This was after it found that there were no extenuating circumstances that they deviate from the report and findings of the JSC.

The matter was tabled before the justice committee a few months ago after Chief Justice Raymond Zondo tabled the JSC report.

Members of the ANC, DA and ACDP in the committee on Wednesday said they agreed that Motata should be removed from office.

They will refer the recommendation to the National Assembly for a final decision.

Magwanishe said the majority of the parties agreed that the matter will go to the National Assembly.

“By majority view, we will recommend to the National Assembly that Judge Motata be removed from office,” said Magwanishe.

He said Motata had been given an opportunity to make representations to the committee on why he should not be removed.

Mkhwebane accused the committee of taking a hasty decision to remove Motata when he was retired and had also shown remorse for his conduct.

ANC MP Xola Nqola said this was not a hasty decision, as the committee had applied its mind properly.

“I disagree with any member that we have rushed, we have not rushed this matter. We have applied our minds. I want to reiterate my point that this committee has applied its mind, it must proceed as recommended,” said Nqola.

Steve Swart of the African Christian Democratic Party said he agreed with the removal of Motata and dismissed claims that the process was rushed by the committee.

Horn also said Motata should be removed from office.

He said they looked at all the facts before they reached this decision.

Motata had been found guilty of drunk driving after he crashed his luxury car in a boundary wall of a house in Johannesburg 2007.

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