JSC to consider suspension of Judge Hlophe

22 July 2022 

More than fourteen years ago the Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, Judge John Hlophe, visited two Constitutional Court justices in an attempt to influence them improperly in favour of Mr Jacob Zuma in a corruption-related case. When the Judicial Service Commission shelved the resultant complaint laid by all the justices of the Constitutional Court, Freedom Under Law had it revived. Over the years FUL has kept up the pressure – and finally, in August last year, the JSC found Judge Hlophe guilty of gross misconduct. FUL is still involved, as a party to Judge Hlophe’s ongoing attempts to have his conviction set aside.

 Meanwhile FUL has been pressing for Judge Hlophe to be suspended. Although the Constitution makes express provision for suspension of judges facing serious charges, and although other judges have been routinely suspended, the JSC has declined to apply the the constitutional provision to Judge Hlophe. Since last year’s finding FUL has redoubled its efforts, ultimately threatening to take the JSC to court if it did not deal with the suspension issue by 15 July 2022.  

Fortunately this was not necessary, since the JSC has now convened a meeting next Monday, 25 July 2022, to consider the matter. Although FUL has not been invited to participate, its attorneys have submitted detailed argument in support of Judge Hlophe’s immediate suspension.* In principle it is unthinkable that a person convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice can continue to head one of the country’s busiest courts. As Judge President he allocates cases to judges, nominates acting judges and has great influence in permanent appointments. He is the nerve centre of the Division. 

We trust the Judicial Service Commission will take our submissions into account and more particularly trust that they will put an end to the current untenable situation in the Western Cape High Court.  

*The FUL submissions are attached here