Judge Hlophe and the Judicial Service Commission

Media release

Yesterday morning Freedom Under Law (FUL) was astounded to learn that Judge President Hlophe of the Western Cape High Court was participating in the current meeting of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). South Africans will recall that back in 2008 the justices of the Constitutional Court laid a charge with the JSC that the judge had tried to influence their deliberations in two cases involving Mr Zuma (then not yet president).

At first the JSC tried to shelve the matter but FUL ensured revival of the case and eventually the Judicial Conduct Committee ruled that, if proved, the charge could result in the judge’s impeachment, and should go ahead. That was nearly four years ago.

Notwithstanding FUL’s efforts, that charge has to this day not been determined. That is bad enough, as is the fact that the judge has long since resumed exercising his duties in the High Court. But FUL believes it is not only ethically unacceptable that the JSC should allow him to participate in the selection of judges but possibly also illegal, endangering the validity of decisions to which he is party.

FUL has therefore called upon the JSC to confirm that Judge Hlophe will not participate in judicial selection as long as the charge is outstanding against him. Depending on the response it receives, FUL may have to resort to litigation yet again in regard to the Judge President’s conduct.