The Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF’s) leader Julius Malema says he is vouching for beleaguered Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe to succeed outgoing Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
Malema was speaking to SABC’s Mzwandile Mbeje at the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
He said among the eight candidates revealed by the Presidency on Monday, Hlophe was the best suitable candidate to succeed Mogoeng.
“I think in that list he (Hlophe) is the highly qualified, the best legal brain, a man of integrity and honour,” said Malema.
Asked about Hlophe’s conduct which has landed him in hot water as he faces impeachment, Malema said that Hlophe had not done anything new or different from any other judge in the Judiciary.
“This thing that they are talking about… it is nonsense. Go and listen to the interview yesterday(Monday) with one of the judges there who said ‘we were told when we were in the SCA that when you’ve got a matter you must not discuss it with other judges’, and the lady said ‘when I was in the lift, two other judges who were with me on the matter were discussing which direction they are going to take on the matter and I closed my ears because the rule is that I must not discuss this matter with anyone.”
“That which Hlophe did is a general practice of the judiciary, they talk about cases. Hlophe was not the first one to talk about cases.
“Hlophe is a man of integrity, highly qualified, presided over the most difficult division of the judiciary called the Western Cape, not only difficult, the most racist with racist government yet the man survived.”
Malema said that Hlophe was hated because he did not mingle with other Judges who are captured.
“Hlophe is not captured by the white monopoly capital. The story is, do Judges talk speak about matter among themselves? and the answer is yes. Was what Hlophe did the first thing, was it unheard of? the answer is no.
“Judges during tea break discuss matters, so Hlophe is not the first one,” explained Malema.
He said the EFF will not vote with the ANC to impeach Hlophe.
Hlophe has been 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 Thales in 2008.
The JSC said in a statement back in April that its Judicial Conduct Tribunal, led by retired Judge of the Gauteng High Court, Judge Joop Labuschagne, unanimously found that “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”.
Malema was further quizzed on whether he or the EFF would prefer Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane should Hlophe not ascend to the chief justice position.
“I think the people who are there, she (Mkhwebane) is very junior, remember in the judiciary seniority is very important, and if we want to keep the integrity of the judiciary we must not do away with seniority.”