Interviews for Western Cape judges continue with judge Hlophe among panellists

Western Cape judge president John Hlophe is taking part in the interviews for Western Cape judges, despite resistance from some legal bodies. File image.
Western Cape judge president John Hlophe is taking part in the interviews for Western Cape judges, despite resistance from some legal bodies. File image.
Image: Trevor Samson

Interviews for Western Cape judges continued before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Friday with embattled judge president John Hlophe taking his seat as one of the commissioners.

His participation in the interviews has been met with great resistance. Until the 11th hour, some bodies, including Freedom Under Law (FUL), were calling for Hlophe, whose character was tainted by allegations of gross misconduct, to be excluded from the proceedings.

Last week, the Judicial Conduct Tribunal found Hlophe guilty of this charge, saying he had tried to influence two Constitutional Court judges in cases related to former president Jacob Zuma. Hlophe said he intends to challenge the tribunal’s findings.

As the findings are yet to be confirmed by the JSC, which has scheduled to meet and discuss this on June 4, Hlophe has kept his seat as the head of the Western Cape division.

On Thursday FUL submitted a letter to the JSC, saying: “The [tribunal] findings are of the most serious character and go to the very heart of the independence of the judiciary in terms of the constitution.

“It is difficult to envisage a graver situation in the context of a judge.”

FUL criticised the JSC for having taken no steps yet to address the consequences of the tribunal decision, including confirming the decision, referring the matter to the National Assembly and recommending to the president that Hlophe be suspended.

“It is a product of the JSC’s failure to fulfil its last-mentioned constitutional obligation to advise the president which has now resulted in judge president Hlophe’s continued participation in the JSC’s processes,” it said.

The JSC, however, had previously expressed the view that there was no legal reason to suspend his participation and said it was impractical to delay or postpone the proceedings. 

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