A much-anticipated Judicial Service Commission (JSC) ruling has found Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe guilty of gross misconduct.
This after Hlophe was accused of trying to influence Constitutional Court judges in a case involving former President Jacob Zuma, relating to the validity of searches during the arms deal investigation of Zuma and Thint in 2008.
The JSC said in a statement on Saturday its Judicial Conduct Tribunal, led by retired Judge of the Gauteng High Court, Judge Joop Labuschagne, unanimously found that “Judge President Hlophe’s conduct breached the provision of section 165 of the Constitution in that he improperly attempted to influence the two Justices of the Constitutional Court to violate their oaths of office.”
Labuschagne ruled that Hlophe’s conduct “seriously threatened and interfered with the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of the Constitutional Court”.
His conduct was also seen as a threat to the public’s confidence in the judicial system.
The Tribunal concluded that Hlophe was guilty of gross misconduct, “as envisaged in section 177 of the Constitution.”
A report has been submitted to JSC chairperson Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
The Tribunal said the report would be considered “in due course” at a meeting.
Calls for suspension
Last year, the DA called for Hlophe’s suspension in addition to gross misconduct, shadow minister Glynnis Breytenbach said.
“We further call for the suspension of Judge Hlophe in light of his long and tainted history of alleged misconduct and until such time that the tribunal has conducted its work and have made its recommendations.
“A proper investigation into these allegations can only happen in his temporary absence from office.
“The DA hopes that the tribunal will be given the space to carry out its duties, we can only build a prosperous nation when all arms of government are strengthened and do their work without fear or favour.”
Earlier this year, JSC commissioner and spokesperson CP Fourie told News 24 there were “certain provisions that needs to be followed which is set out in the Judicial Service Commission Act” for a judge to be suspended.
“The JSC cannot just, when there may be unhappiness about a judgment, proceed to suspend a judge – that’s not how it works.”