Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe has abandoned his urgent application in the Johannesburg High Court seeking to interdict Parliament’s impeachment process against him.
Part A of Hlophe’s application sought to interdict the impeachment process, which is currently being reviewed by the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, as well as stopping President Cyril Ramaphosa from suspending him.
Hlophe’s legal representative, Lihle Sidaki, told the high court’s Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland that the first part of his application would be removed from the roll.
“It is my understanding there has been an exchange of a draft order between the Judicial Service Commission [JSC] and the applicant in which the draft order posits that the matter will be removed from the roll in relation to part A of the application,” Sidaki said.
The matter comes after the JSC had to postpone its meeting on Monday due to the litigation by Hlophe.
The JSC was scheduled to meet to decide whether to recommend Hlophe’s suspension to the president.
Sidaki explained that part A of Hlophe’s application would be removed from the roll due to this development.
He said the JSC had not responded on whether it would advise Ramaphosa on Hlophe’s suspension until late on Tuesday.
However, Sutherland said the matter would have to be abandoned, rather than removing it from the roll, due to the application now being “totally redundant”.
The JSC last month had found that Hlophe improperly tried to influence two Constitutional Court (ConCourt) justices to violate their oaths of office by ruling in favour of former president Jacob Zuma.
The matter related to the validity of searches during the arms deal investigation of Zuma and French arms company Thales’ local subsidiary, Thint, in 2008.
In a majority judgment, the JSC concluded that Hlophe was guilty of gross misconduct based on the Judicial Conduct Tribunal’s findings.
Hlophe – in part B of his application – wants to have the high court set aside the tribunal’s findings.
He also wants the high court to rule that the JSC meeting – in which the majority voted that he should be impeached – be declared unlawful as the commission “failed to perform its constitutional obligations”.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Sidaki told Sutherland that the orders in part B of the application are still sought by Hlophe.
Sutherland then indicated that part B of the application would be heard at a later date, which is yet to be determined.
“Where we are now is that part A falls away. I heard you said there was some discussion about it being removed from the roll. In my view, it seems manifest that part A relief should be dismissed.
“As far as part B is concerned, you and the [JSC’s lawyers] must sit down and workout a decent timetable for the exchange of affidavits and heads of argument. Once you have done that, I will fix the earliest convenient date after the [papers] have been filed,” the judge said.
Sutherland added that there would be no cost orders of any kind in the application.