Judge Salie-Hlophe paints Deputy Judge President Goliath as racist

Judge Salie-Hlophe paints Deputy Judge President Goliath as racist

Cape Judge President John Hlophe weds newly- appointed Judge Gayaat Salie-Samuels on April 26, 2015 in Claremont, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Esa Alexander)

She accused him of having an ‘unhealthy obsession’ with her marriage.

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe has accused Deputy Judge President of the Western Cape High Court Patricia Goliath of attempting to oust the judge president in order to succeed him.

Describing herself as “collateral damage” in an attack targeted at John Hlophe, Judge Salie-Hlophe further accused Goliath of racism, ulterior motives and having an “unhealthy obsession” with her marriage.

“For now, it must be said that the averments against me are palpably untruthful, at best can be called eloquently stated gossip, designed and orchestrated to ridicule me in the course of pursuing an agenda of destruction,” she charged in a statement on Saturday.

Goliath this month lodged an official complaint with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), alleging “gross misconduct” by judges Hlophe and Salie-Hlophe, which Judge Goliath charges compromises the proper functioning of the Western Cape High Court.

In a blistering 14-page affidavit, Judge Goliath claimed Judge Salie-Hlophe wielded enormous power, including determining her own working days and hours, as well as having major clout in the appointment of acting judges.

‘She feels aggrieved in regard to her powers’

In her seven years as a judge, Salie-Hlophe said she had served under two deputy judge presidents without complaints regarding the execution of her judicial functions, claims that she received preferential treatment, or allegations that she was involved in the administration and management of the high court.

“Her complaint comes at a time when she has been unsuccessful in her bid to become a Judge of the Constitutional Court, after five years since getting married to my husband and at a time when she feels aggrieved in regard to her powers,” Judge Salie-Hlophe said.

Judge Goliath’s allegation that she had liberties and working conditions which were not otherwise extended and exercised by other colleagues was “delusional”, Judge Salie-Hhlope argued, citing allocation charts of her assigned matters and additional voluntary work as proof against “this spurious and slanderous allegations”.

Appointed to her position in July 2016, Judge Goliath in her complaint said she occupied the deputy judge president post “only in name”.

She acted as a Constitutional Court justice in 2018 and returned to the Western Cape High Court in April 2019.

Judge Goliath said she found all her duties as deputy judge president were suspended, without any indication that she was no longer required to perform them.

She claimed that Judge President Hlophe had later, in a meeting, given her two reasons why he had “withdrawn” her duties – he had decided he didn’t need a deputy and that she had “interfered in his personal life, and that he considered it fatal to our relationship”.

This is, according to Judge Goliath, related to an alleged incident at Judge Hlophe’s home in 2017 involving a third party, an unnamed female legal practitioner.

‘Malicious reports on my private life’

Judge Salie-Hlophe – who does not live there – had called her and “disclosed certain information”, asking her to go to her house and attend to her daughters as there was an electricity outage.

She later arrived home with an injury to her hand that was “sufficiently serious to require stitches”, Judge Goliath alleged.

Judge Salie-Hlophe, in response, said it was “inconceivable that a right-thinking person, particularly and least of all a fellow woman and judge would bring into a public forum and in the course of a judicial complaint her interpretation and false narratives as to my personal life”.

The complaint was “simply a bitter spew to oust the Judge President, the ambition to succeed him and to garner herself the entitlement she believes she is rather more suitable for”.

“Her complaint includes the attitude which refuses to recognise the sanctity of the institution of my marriage and undermines my independence as a woman, the role I play to my children as a mother, that of a wife and lastly, and by no means least, my position as a judge and colleague.

“Bizarrely and quite frankly humorously, Goliath makes malicious reports on my private life launched like a scud missile to injure me, my family, my elders and my community in an attempt to destroy me and advance her career. It is rather apparent that I am the proverbial ‘collateral damage’ in an attack targeted against the Judge President.”

According to Judge Salie-Hlophe, Goliath has an “unhealthy obsession with my marriage”.

“She had expressed to me that I should drop the ‘Hlophe’ to my double barrel surname and that should I not choose to exit the marriage ‘others’ will wonder why I am married to “an old black man”; that Judge Andre Le Grange had expressed to her that I am only married to the Judge President so that I can wield some or other power over the division.

‘Scathing, scandalous and low-blow attacks’

“I was shocked that she would encourage me to leave my husband, she would try to make me disillusioned in the marriage and that as his deputy and purported as my friend she could consider this appropriate. In the circumstances I gradually withdrew any engagement with her other than civil exchanges.

“I have clearly now earned her ire in the process and I am subjected as convenient artillery in this scathing, scandalous and low-blow attacks against the Judge President. It lacks substance, rationality, relevance and merit simultaneously fed into the media and the public domain for maximum damage.”

Judge Goliath has also alleged that the allocation of the Jason Rohde murder trial to Judge Salie-Hlophe had resulted in unhappiness among their colleagues, as she was one of the most junior judges.

Judge Salie-Hlophe hit back that the matter was pending before the Supreme Court of Appeal, saying it was “inconceivable that a learned Judge can deem it appropriate to comment on a live matter and make absurd statements in that regard”.

She cited two high profile cases – the rape and murder trials of Tokai teenager Franziska Blöchliger and Sinoxolo Mafevuka – who was found dead in a Khayelitsha toilet cubicle – which had been allocated to a judge permanently appointed on the same date as she was and an acting judge respectively.

Judge Salie-Hlophe said, after she was allocated the Rohde case, Judge Goliath had told her she had promised it to another more senior male colleague, as it drew public interest.

“I asked her how it would be different to other matters and referenced to the aforesaid two trials when Goliath exclaimed that those were different as it were ‘Cape Flats matters’,” Judge Salie-Hlophe alleged.

“It is clearly Goliath’s stance that matters become more serious and ‘sensitive’ depending on the race and class of the parties involved, which goes against the fundamental Constitutional principle of equality. She would openly and comfortably state that during her life people treated her condescendingly but at least she is not a ‘k*ff**tjie’, regarding it as an accomplishment.

“The rule of law and the right to equality means that we are all equal before the law irrespective of our background, race, culture, creed and gender.”

Judge Goliath on Saturday said that the matter was before the JSC and she would “prefer not make any comments at this stage”.

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