‘Flip-flop’ or change of mind? SA reacts to Malema supporting Hlophe to become next chief justice

EFF leader Julius Malema’s praise of Western Cape judge president John Hlophe has left many raising their eyebrows, with some online calling him “the ultimate flip-flopper”.

This week, in an interview on SABC News, Malema threw his weight behind Hlophe for the position of chief justice, despite his previous stance regarding him. 

Hlophe is among eight candidates, including advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane and deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who have been nominated for the position to replace outgoing chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. 

Malema said Hlope was the most “highly qualified” candidate on the list with the “best legal brain”. 

“Hlophe is a man of integrity, highly qualified [and] presided over the most difficult division of the judiciary in the Western Cape. It is not only the most difficult division but it is also the most racist, with a racist government, yet the man survived,” said Malema.


During a media briefing in 2017, Malema vowed he EFF would remove Hlophe from the judiciary because he was a threat, suggesting he was a “rotten potato”. 

“In the Western Cape, that judge president Hlope is the most worrying thing about our judiciary,” Malema said at the time.  

“You always get those rotten potatoes that want to spoil the whole bag. It’s the EFF’s job to remove those rotten potatoes and we will do that even in the judiciary. The judiciary must never think it is untouchable.”

On social media, many weighed in, with the video of Malema criticising Hlophe making the rounds on Twitter. 

Here is a snapshot of what many had to say: