Unpaid legal fees delay Judge Hlophe tribunal proceedings

18 October 2019 - 19:30
By Naledi Shange
The hearing looking into Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe's conduct has been delayed yet again.
Image: Foto24 / Bongiwe Gumede The hearing looking into Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe's conduct has been delayed yet again.

Soon after announcing that the tribunal investigating alleged gross misconduct by Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe was set to resume proceedings on Monday, the Judicial Conduct Tribunal on Friday announced that the hearings had been halted once again.

This time, the payment of Hlophe’s attorney was behind the postponement.

In a statement, the tribunal said: "Regrettably, the tribunal is unable to commence with hearings due to an unresolved dispute regarding legal fees between the Office of the State Attorney and Judge President Hlophe’s attorney.

"The tribunal president, Judge Labuschagne. is exploring other avenues to ensure that the dispute is resolved to enable the tribunal to convene as soon as it is practically possible and deal with this long outstanding matter."

A new date for the hearings would be announced at a later date.

The tribunal is surrounding allegations of gross misconduct by Hlophe.

The last sitting happened over a year ago, but the tribunal delays have dragged on for more than a decade.

Hlophe stands accused by constitutional court judges of trying to improperly influence them during the trial involving former president Jacob Zuma and French arms company Thint in the infamous arms deal.

The last time the tribunal met, Free State Judge Cagney Musi recused himself from the panel after only 20 minutes, amid complaints from Hlophe that he had made disparaging remarks about him at a social gathering. 

Hlophe serves on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) responsible for recommending judges to the presidency, and his role on this committee has come under scrutiny for a perceived conflict of interest since the charges were made against him.

He has been the Western Cape's judge president since 2000 and will occupy that seat until he retires, failing conclusive findings of his guilt in the arms deal matter at the tribunal which would spark an impeachment process.