Avatar photo

By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


Ramaphosa removes Hlophe and Motata from the judicial bench

The Presidency on Wednesday announced that Hlophe and Motata were both relieved of their duties.


President Cyril Ramaphosa has removed the longest-serving Judge President of the High Court, John Hlophe, from the bench.

The Presidency on Wednesday announced that Hlophe and Nkola Motata were both relieved of their duties.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the president removed Hlophe in accordance with provisions of the Constitution.

Hlophe

“The President accordingly removed Judge President Mandlakayise Hlophe of the Western Cape Division of the High Court from judicial office following the National Assembly resolution to remove Judge Hlophe, as stipulated in section 177 (1) (b) of the constitution.

“A total of 305 Members of Parliament voted for the removal of Judge Hlope from judicial office, with 27 members voting against his removal,” Magwenya said.

ALSO READ: ‘No shred of integrity’ – Judges Hlophe and Motata impeached by Parliament

The recommendation for Hlophe’s removal came after the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) referred the matter to Parliament after the Judicial Conduct Tribunal (JCT) concluded that the judge’s conduct breached the provisions of section 165 of the Constitution

It found that Hlophe had acted improperly when he attempted to sway two Constitutional Court (ConCourt) justices in favour of former president Jacob Zuma in his 2008 bid to overturn warrants used to seize 93 000 pages of corruption trial evidence against him.

The decision of the JSC upheld the Judicial Conduct Tribunal’s findings.

The JCT established that Judge Hlophe’s behaviour seriously threatened and interfered with the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of the Constitutional Court and further undermined public confidence in the judicial system.

Hlophe’s impeachment was then referred to the committee in 2021 and later suspended by President Cyril Ramaphosa in December 2022.

Motata

Magwenya said Ramaphosa, also in terms of provisions of the Constitution, removed Retired Judge of the Gauteng High Court Division Motata.

“This  follows the National Assembly resolution to remove Judge Motata, as provided for in section 177 (1) (b) of the constitution. 296 members of parliament voted for Judge Motata’s removal from office, with one voting against, and 13 members being recorded as having abstained.

Motata’s removal came during a National Assembly sitting after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) set aside an earlier JSC decision to clear him of gross misconduct following a drunk driving conviction in 2009

The judge’s guilty finding related to a January 2007 incident, where Motata crashed his car into the wall of a Hurlingham home and then made racist utterances to the homeowner, Richard Baird.

Hlophe and Motata have become the first judges to be impeached in South Africa since the dawn of democracy.

The previous judge was removed from the bench in 1910.

Additional reporting byMolefe Seeletsa

ALSO READ: SA has desperate shortage of judges and it’s creating serious backlogs