Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
29 Nov 2021
1:11 pm

John Hlophe vs JSC: Arguments set for February 2022 as more parties admitted

Citizen Reporter

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe wants to have the gross misconduct findings against him set aside.

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe. Picture: Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe’s case against the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will be heard in the Johannesburg High Court next year.

The case has been set for February 2022 after the high court on Monday ruled to allow seven parties, including Freedom Under Law (FUL), to join Hlophe’s review application, BusinessDay has reported.

FUL had sought to intervene in the case, however, their application was opposed by Hlophe.

During court proceedings two weeks ago, Hlophe’s attorney, advocate Lihle Sidaki, argued that FUL’s founding affidavit was not in the public’s interest in terms of section 38 of the Constitution.

Sidaki also argued that the non-profit organisation (NPO) did not set out a proper case on whether it was liable to participate in the litigation.

ALSO READ: Hlophe abandons application to stop Ramaphosa from suspending him

However, the high court suggested otherwise, with Hlophe’s application to have the affidavit set aside being subsequently dismissed.

“The issue in the review in question is a question of profound constitutional importance. FUL has been engaged in this case at earlier stages of its evolution. The merits or demerits of its stance on the controversy are irrelevant to the joinder,” the judgment read.

Hlophe had filed a rule-30 application with the court in bid to oppose FUL’s application after the NPO signalled its intention to intervene in the matter in September.

This was shortly after Hlophe filed an application to review a finding that he was guilty of impeachable conduct.

Gross misconduct

In August, the JSC found that Hlophe had improperly tried to cajole two Constitutional Court (ConCourt) justices to violate their oaths of office by ruling in favour of former president Jacob Zuma.

READ MORE: Will Hlophe’s impeachment vote in Parliament be held via secret ballot?

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.

The commission concluded that Hlophe was guilty of gross misconduct based on the Judicial Conduct Tribunal’s findings.

Hlophe, meanwhile, wants to have these findings set aside by the high court.

The judge 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”.

While the matter is set for 2022, Hlophe’s impeachment vote, which is set to take place in Parliament, has currently been put on ice.

The JSC has also elected not to recommend Hlophe’s suspension to President Cyril Ramaphosa in the interim.