Hlophe to face tribunal
Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe had not been told yesterday of the Judicial Service Commission's (JSC) decision to haul him before a judicial conduct tribunal.
The JSC decided on Wednesday night that Hlophe will face the tribunal on allegations of gross misconduct that could result in his impeachment.
At the time the JSC said it would announce its decision only after the parties concerned had been told of it but two independent sources have told Business Day website BDlive of the decision.
The convening of a tribunal - a sign that the JSC thinks there is a prima facie case against the judge president - means that Hlophe and some of the justices of the Constitutional Court will be subjected to cross-examination.
"I have been hearing rumours and the media reporting [that a decision has been taken] but we've got no confirmation," Hophe's lawyer, Barnabas Xulu, said.
Hlophe's woes started in 2008 when he allegedly asked two Constitutional Court justices - Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde - to rule in favour of President Jacob Zuma, who faced corruption charges in connection with the arms deal.
Hlophe accused the justices of infringing on his rights by making their allegations about his conduct public.
The commission decided in 2009 not to pursue the Constitutional Court's complaint against Hlophe.
Freedom Under Law, an NGO headed by former judge Johann Kriegler, then asked the Pretoria High Court to order a reopening of the commission's inquiry but the court refused.
But the NGO succeeded in the Supreme Court of Appeal. Western Cape Premier Helen Zille entered the fray and launched a challenge in the Cape Town High Court based on the way in which the commission handled the case.
The Constitutional Court refused Hlophe leave to appeal against two Supreme Court of Appeal rulings - one involving Freedom Under Law, the other Zille - earlier this year.
The JSC referred the matter to the JSC's judicial conduct committee in April.
The subcommittee recommended last month that a tribunal be set up to hear the matter.
The meeting at which the decision to convene a judicial conduct tribunal was taken was attended by Hlophe's deputy, Judge Jeanette Traverso, and by a delegate of Zille.