Hlophe case to be considered Friday
The judicial conduct committee will meet on Friday to consider allegations against Cape Judge President John Hlophe, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) confirmed on Thursday.
"The judicial conduct committee will meet on Friday to consider his case, at the Constitutional Court," said JSC secretariat member Sello Chiloane.
The judicial conduct committee deals with complaints against judges.
Hlophe himself would not appear before the committee, and the media would not be allowed to attend. The committee would issue a statement after the meeting.
The committee was to have met in May to discuss Hlophe's case, but with Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke absent, it did not have a quorum and the hearing had to be delayed, the Star reported.
The allegations relate to Constitutional Court judges accusing Hlophe of trying to influence their ruling in a case involving President Jacob Zuma.
Trade union Solidarity called on the JSC on Thursday to expedite the investigation against Hlophe to protect the integrity of the justice system.
Solidarity was concerned by the ongoing legal battle to conclude the complaints against Hlophe.
"The charges against Hlophe go to the root of the personal attributes expected of a judge," said spokesman Naude de Klerk.
"Characteristics such as impartiality, integrity and honesty are inherently part and parcel of the qualities of a judge."
Solidarity said Justice Minister Jeff Radebe's statement that he would not seek repayment of the Western Cape judge president's legal fees did not give hope that judgment would be delivered in the near future.
"As a result of the seriousness of the charges against Hlophe, the legal fraternity and the public expect the matter to be resolved without delay," De Klerk said.
Legal advocacy group Freedom Under Law (FUL) said on Wednesday that Radebe's decision was indefensible.
It was surprising that the South African taxpayer had to pay the legal costs of Hlophe in the proceedings arising from the complaint against him by Constitutional Court judges, said FUL chairman Johann Kriegler.
Kriegler, who is himself a former Constitutional Court and Appeal Court judge, accused Radebe of contradicting his earlier undertaking that Hlophe would be asked to repay the millions of rand in legal costs if he lost his court cases.
"There has never been a suggestion that the judge president of the Cape court was acting in the course of his duties when on his own admission he raised with two justices in their offices in Braamfontein the politically sensitive Zuma/Thint cases they were considering at the time," Kriegler said.
FUL considered Radebe's decision unsound.
"In the circumstances, it is unconscionable that such costs are to be borne by the citizenry."
Earlier this year, the Constitutional Court refused Hlophe's application for leave to appeal two judgments against him. The application arose from two Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) cases brought by Western Cape premier Helen Zille and FUL.
The SCA ordered the JSC to investigate the charges against Hlophe.
The matter began in 2008 when the Constitutional Court complained that Hlophe had tried to influence two of its judges to rule in favour of President Jacob Zuma in a case involving the country's multi-billion rand arms deal.
In a written Parliamentary reply this week Radebe said: "I have decided, in light of the importance of the constitutional issues raised in the case involving Judge Hlophe and the judges of the Constitutional Court, that I will not be seeking recovery of costs incurred in the case involving Judge Hlophe and the judges of the Constitutional Court."
The Democratic Alliance criticised the decision. DA MP Debbie Schafer accused Radebe of misleading the public and of rewarding Hlophe for protecting Zuma.