Judge John Hlophe set to face tribunal over undue influence

02 July 2018 - 10:18
By Ernest Mabuza
John Hlophe. File photo.
Image: Foto24 / Bongiwe Gumede John Hlophe. File photo.

The judicial conduct tribunal to investigate and decide on a complaint lodged by Constitutional Court justices against Western Cape judge president John Hlophe is set to begin on Monday.

The ConCourt justices have accused Hlophe of trying to influence the outcome of cases involving African National Congress president Jacob Zuma in 2008.

It was alleged the judge president approached the then acting justice Chris Jafta and justice Bess Nkabinde on separate occasions where he discussed the cases with them.

When the tribunal was about to begin its work in 2013‚ Nkabinde and Jafta raised challenges against the tribunal’s constitutionality.

Their argument was that there was no valid complaint before the tribunal that could be investigated. They said they were under no obligation to attend the hearing unless there was a complaint under oath as required by the Judicial Service Commission Amendment Act.

The then tribunal chairman‚ retired judge Joop Labuschagne‚ dismissed their objection. This prompted the justices to challenge Labuschagne’s ruling. The full bench of the high court dismissed their application in 2014.

The SCA also dismissed their appeal‚ prompting Nkabinde and Jafta to apply for leave to the Constitutional Court‚ the court they served in. In May 2016‚ the Constitutional Court dismissed the application by Nkabine and Jafta.

The Constitutional Court said it was incapacitated because of conflicts disabling its members from sitting to determine the merits of the application. This paved the way for the present tribunal which will sit in Sandton on Monday.

However‚ the Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that Hlophe had asked for the recusal of one member of the tribunal.

Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission Sello Chiloane said the tribunal is expected to start on Monday and said any preliminary issues raised by the parties would be dealt with on the day.