Salie-Hlophe lets fly at deputy judge president over complaint to JSC

25 January 2020 - 16:48 By Dave Chambers
Western Cape judge president John Hlophe and Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe during their wedding in Claremont, Cape Town, in April 2015.
Western Cape judge president John Hlophe and Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe during their wedding in Claremont, Cape Town, in April 2015.
Image: Esa Alexander

Full-scale war broke out in the Western Cape High Court on Saturday when judge president John Hlophe’s wife responded furiously to a complaint by deputy judge president Patricia Goliath.

Gayaat Salie-Hlophe, who married the judge president five years ago, said Goliath’s “bitter spew” was a thinly veiled attempt to take her husband’s job.

And she hinted that she would respond to the Judicial Service Commission with a complaint of her own about Goliath.

Western Cape deputy judge president Patricia Goliath.
Western Cape deputy judge president Patricia Goliath.

Salie-Hlophe was reacting to a complaint on Tuesday in which Goliath told the Judicial Service Commission Hlophe and his wife should be investigated for “gross misconduct”.

Saying she had copied her response to the office of the chief justice, Salie-Hlophe said Goliath’s allegations against her were “palpably untruthful”.

At best, she said, they could be called “eloquently stated gossip, designed and orchestrated to ridicule me in the course of pursuing an agenda of destruction”.

She added: “The complaint is simply a bitter spew to oust the judge president, the ambition to succeed him and to garner herself the entitlement she believes she is rather more suitable for.”

Salie-Hlophe said Goliath’s claim that she was involved in managing the Western Cape High Court was a fabrication. “Goliath is delusional in her averments that I have liberties and working conditions which are not otherwise extended and exercised by other colleagues,” she said.

Turning to Goliath’s claims about her marriage to the 60-year-old judge president, Salie-Hlophe, 45, said it was “inconceivable” that a “fellow woman and judge” would air such matters in a judicial complaint.

“I am keenly aware that Goliath has an unhealthy obsession with my marriage,” she said.

“She had expressed to me that I should drop the ‘Hlophe’ to my double-barrel surname, and that should I not choose to exit the marriage ‘others’ will wonder why I am married to ‘an old black man’.

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.
Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.

“She serves under this obsessed belief that I am married to my husband for reasons other than those goals shared by spouses within the institution of a sacred marital union.

“I was shocked that she would encourage me to leave my husband, she would try to make me disillusioned in my marriage, and that as his deputy and purportedly as my friend she could consider this appropriate.

“In the circumstances, I gradually withdrew my engagement with her other than civil exchanges. I have clearly now earned her ire ... and I am subjected as convenient artillery in this scathing, scandalous and low-blow attacks against the judge president.”

Salie-Hlophe said Goliath’s complaint lacked “substance, rationality, relevance and merit” and had been put into the public domain with the intention of inflicting maximum damage.

Salie-Hlophe ended her statement with an attack on the deputy judge president’s racial attitudes.

“It is clearly Goliath’s stance that matters become more serious and ‘sensitive’ depending on the race and class of the parties involved,” she said.

“She would openly and comfortably state that during her life people treated her condescendingly but at least she is not a ‘k ... jie’, regarding it as an accomplishment.”

Asked to respond to Salie-Hlophe’s statement, Goliath said she would prefer not to comment at this stage.

“Thank you for your query. The matter is currently before the JSC. I prefer not to make any comments at this stage,” she said in a message to TimesLIVE.