Freedom Under Law has called for Western Cape High Court Judge John Hlophe’s head following his dismissal of former state security minister Bongani Bongo’s bribery and corruption case.
Hlophe delivered his judgement on Friday, 26 February, ruling that Bongo could not be found guilty of the corruption charge due to insufficient evidence.
Bongo was accused of trying to disrupt a parliamentary inquiry into state capture at Eskom on 10 October 2017.
Freedom Under Law chairperson Johann Kriegler, who is a retired justice of the Constitutional Court (ConCourt), said the organisation was concerned about the implications for the administration of justice of Hlophe’s ruling.
“This particular decision is clearly wrong and shows what harm just one dishonest judge can do. Since he tried to pervert the course of justice against Mr Zuma 13 years ago, we have maintained that Judge Hlophe is unfit to be a judge,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Kriegler argued that Hlophe’s reasoning to dismiss Bongo’s case demonstrated “how dangerous it has been to allow the judge to remain on the bench”.
“An exemplary case of corruption has been frustrated, the corrupt deed has gone unpunished and decent public servants have been defamed.
“We now publicly and urgently repeat our submission to the Judicial Service Commission (SCA) that Judge Hlophe be suspended pending the conclusion of the proceedings for his removal from office.
“His conduct in the case against Mr Bongo constitutes yet another act of gross misconduct unfitting him for judicial office,” Kriegler concluded.
Meanwhile, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Western Cape regional spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said on 702 last Friday, they would study Hlophe’s judgement before considering their options.
“The NPA notes the decision of the High Court of South Africa, Western Cape division, and will study the judgement before considering its options,” he said.