Committee to decide next week on complaints in Patricia Goliath vs John Hlophe saga
The Judicial Conduct Committee will meet next Friday to consider whether complaints involving Western Cape judge president John Hlophe and his deputy, Patricia Goliath, should be reported to the Judicial Conduct Tribunal.
The committee of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) gave an update on Wednesday on complaints lodged by Goliath with the JSC in January and a counter application last week by Hlophe.
The JSC announced last month that the complaint by Goliath would be dealt with by the Judicial Conduct Committee, a statutory body chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.
In her complaint, Goliath accused Hlophe and his wife, Gayaat Salie-Hlophe, of gross misconduct.
Goliath also accused Hlophe of attempting to interfere in a legal challenge to the inter-governmental agreement between South Africa and Russian nuclear agency Rosatom.
In addition, she alleged there had been physical assault by Hlophe on judges, as well as intimidation, victimisation and abuse.
The secretariat of the committee said after Goliath's complaint, Hlophe had lodged his own complaint of gross misconduct against Goliath.
In his counter-complaint, Hlophe charged that Goliath had, in the performance of her judicial functions, made herself guilty of judicial misconduct.
“The allegations, taken collectively, create a false and unfortunate impression that I abuse my judicial position, am corrupt and conduct myself in a manner not befitting the position of a judge,” Hlophe said.
The committee said that after considering Goliath’s complaint against Hlophe and his counter complaint, Zondo was satisfied that each complaint, if established, would likely lead to a finding by the JSC that the respondent judge in each case was guilty of gross misconduct.
The secretariat said Zondo had referred the complaints to the Judicial Conduct Committee to consider whether it should recommend to the JSC that they be investigated and reported on by a tribunal.
It said the complaint by Goliath against Salie-Hlophe was receiving consideration and the parties would be informed of the outcome.
The secretariat said that at the meeting on Friday, the committee may decide to recommend to the JSC that the complaints, or one of them, be investigated and reported on by a tribunal.
The committee might also decide whether to refer one of the complaints or both to Zondo so he may designate a member of the committee to conduct an inquiry to determine the merits.
“The committee may follow this last-mentioned route if satisfied that, if the complaints were established, the misconduct, though serious, would not be impeachable,” the secretariat said.
The secretariat said Goliath and Hlophe had been invited to make representations to the Judicial Conduct Committee on or before Monday, ahead of Friday's meeting.
“They have also been informed that, if they obtain leave from [the] deputy chief justice, they may address the committee.”