Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Parliament to go ahead with impeachment vote after Hlophe loses in court

The National Assembly will vote on the judge’s impeachment on Wednesday.

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe‘s bid to block Parliament from voting on his impeachment has failed in court.

Hlophe’s interdict application was struck from the roll by the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

Impeachment vote

The ruling now paves the way for the National Assembly to vote on Hlophe and retired Gauteng High Court judge, Nkola Motata‘s removal from the bench.

This is after Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services resolved to recommend the removal of Hlophe and Motata last year.

Motata and Hlophe’s impeachment was recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) after they were both found guilty of gross misconduct for separate matters.

ALSO READ: ‘I’m not the only one who remarked about Zuma’: Hlophe says political interference behind impeachment

Their impeachment process has to be in line with Section 177 of the Constitution, which governs the removal of a judge.

In the National Assembly, two-thirds of MPs must vote in favour of the impeachment, which would result in the judge being formally removed from office by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

If the House does not vote in favour of impeachment, the judges could be sanctioned through punitive measures that include an order for an apology, a reprimand, counselling or training.

This would be the first time since 1910 that a judge is impeached in South Africa.

JSC findings

The recommendation for Hlophe’s removal came after the JSC found the judge had acted improperly when he attempted to sway two Constitutional Court (ConCourt) justices in favour of former president Jacob Zuma in his 2008 bid to overturn warrants used to seize 93 000 pages of corruption trial evidence against him.

The decision of the JSC upheld the Judicial Conduct Tribunal’s findings.

Hlophe’s impeachment was then referred to the committee in 2021 and later suspended by President Cyril Ramaphosa in December 2022.

Meanwhile, Motata had previously been cleared of gross misconduct by the JSC despite a finding that he had committed gross misconduct by the Judicial Conduct Tribunal.

READ MORE: Judges Hlophe and Motata: Removal on track

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), however, set aside the JSC’s decision in June, paving the way for his impeachment by Parliament.

The judge’s guilty finding related to a January 2007 incident, where Motata crashed his car into the wall of a Hurlingham home and then made racist utterances to the homeowner, Richard Baird. 

In 2009, the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg then convicted Motata of driving under the influence of alcohol and sentenced him to a fine of R20 000 or 12 months’ imprisonment.

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