Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe, who has been found guilty of gross misconduct, is expected to hear Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s court challenge against Parliament’s impeachment rules in June.
According to a report in the Sunday Times, Hlophe will hear Mkhwebane’s challenge along with judges Elizabeth Baartman and Mokgoatji Dolamo from 7 to 11 June.
On 4 June, the Judicial Service Commission is scheduled to decide whether Hlophe is guilty of gross misconduct and should face impeachment.
Mkhwebane, whose two and a half month sabbatical ended on 31 March, is challenging the constitutionality of National Assembly impeachment rules adopted for the removal of heads of Chapter 9 institutions.
In October, the Western Cape High Court dismissed her bid to halt Parliament’s removal proceedings, which constitutes part A of her application. Part B of her application wants the impeachment rules to be declared unconstitutional and invalid.
Mkhwebane has suffered several court defeats, with the latest being the Constitutional Court’s March dismissal of an application for direct access to appeal the High Court’s ruling on the halting of the parliamentary inquiry.
The beleaguered Western Cape judge president was found guilty of gross misconduct for attempting to influence judges to rule in favour of former president Jacob Zuma in a 2008 challenge to search warrants used to seize 93 000 pages of corruption trial evidence against him.
The Judicial Conduct Tribunal – led by retired judge Joop Labuschagne – found that Hlophe had attempted to sway two Constitutional Court justices Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde.
Despite his legal woes and condemnation from some political leaders and legal and civil society bodies, Hlophe participated in the interviewing of prospective Western Cape judges in April but kept largely silent through the process.
Hlophe said he “fundamentally disagrees” with the tribunal’s findings and has vowed to clear his name.