Tribunal must probe ‘serious’ gross misconduct claims against Judge Hlophe – Mogoeng

South Africa’s Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: GCIS / Flickr

Hlophe has previously denied the allegations against him, labelling them ‘vague and embarrassing’.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has recommended that a tribunal be established to investigate gross misconduct claims against Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, lodged by his deputy.

In a statement released on Friday evening, the office of the chief justice said Mogoeng had come to a decision regarding the running battle between Hlophe and Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath.

Goliath laid a gross misconduct claim against Hlophe in January, alleging, among other things, that he assaulted a fellow colleague, used abusive language towards her and delegated duties meant for her position to a junior colleague.

Hlophe in return, filed a counter-complaint against Goliath which included, among other things, alleged gross incompetence.

On Friday, Mogoeng said he was compelled to consider the matter after the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) recommended an inquisitorial enquiry. Members of the JCC however were disqualified from entertaining the matter due to their prior involvement in hearing the case, with Mogoeng stepping in.

Having considered the complaint, Mogoeng said he was satisfied that the three most serious complaints against Hlophe, warranted a tribunal.

“This is arguably a borderline case between gross misconduct and conduct so unbecoming of a judge as to be sufficiently grave to warrant serious consequences although it may not quite rise to the level of gross misconduct.”

He described the alleged assault complaint against another judge as “unprecedentedly serious in judicial circles and must be looked into thoroughly”.

He dismissed all counter-allegations made against Goliath. He also dismissed all other allegations made against Hlophe, barring the three cited.

The JCC will now recommend to the Judicial Service Commission that a tribunal be established.

A tribunal can either lead to impeachment, or sanction without impeachment, or it can dismiss the charges.

Hlophe has previously denied the allegations against him, labelling them “vague and embarrassing”.

He would “demonstrate at the right time, before the correct forum, that the complaint revealed a deeply worrying standard of judicial competence from a member of the Bench in the position of the DJP”.

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