It’s time for Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe to face the music, the Constitutional Court found in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
In 2008, the court issued a statement alleging Hlophe had approached some of its judges “in an improper attempt to influence [the] court’s pending judgment in one or more cases.”
The cases involved the lawfulness of searches and seizures conducted in connection with the investigation and prosecution of President Jacob Zuma and french arms company Thint. TimesLIVE reported that Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jafta were among the 11 justices who‚ in 2008‚ accused Hlophe of trying to influence the outcome of cases involving Zuma.
According to a statement from the court, “The Chief Justice established a Judicial Conduct Tribunal to conduct an inquiry into the complaint. He appointed Judge Labuschagne as President of the tribunal as well as two other members of the tribunal. The applicants were required to testify in the Tribunal to substantiate the complaint.”
However, when the tribunal was about to conduct a formal hearing against Hlophe in 2013‚ Nkabinde and Jafta raised challenges against the tribunal’s constitutionality, TimesLIVE reported.
“After the full bench of the high court dismissed the judges’ application in 2014‚ the Supreme Court of Appeal also dismissed their appeal against the high court judgment earlier this year. The judges then approached the Constitutional Court this year,” the article said.
On Wednesday, the ConCourt ruled that outstanding matters against Hlophe could go ahead by dismissing an application by Nkabinde and Jafta for the rescission of a May Constitutional Court order for leave to appeal against a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal, which went against them.
“We would be failing in our duty if we did not take this opportunity to emphasise that it is in the interests of justice that the matter of the complaint against Judge President Hlophe should be dealt with and concluded without any further delay,” said the court.
“Eight years later, the matter has not been finalised. It is in the interests of justice that this matter be brought to finality.”