| John Hlophe saga: JSC postpones meeting to ‘afford two members an opportunity to recover from ailments’

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe.

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe.

Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24

  • The JSC is expected to decide whether to endorse the findings of the Judicial Conduct Tribunal.
  • The tribunal found John Hlophe guilty of misconduct.
  • The JSC was due to continue deliberations on Friday, but was forced to postpone its meeting.  

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will not be meeting on Friday to continue deliberating the report by the Judicial Conduct Tribunal, which found Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe guilty of gross misconduct. 

This is because of the ill-health of two members, the JSC said in a statement on Wednesday. 

The JSC was expected to meet virtually on Friday, but postponed the meeting to 25 August 2021. 

“This postponement is intended to afford the two members an opportunity to recover from their ailments, so as to participate fully in the deliberations. The JSC wishes the two members a speedy recovery,” the JSC said.

News24 previously reported that Hlophe indicated that he “fundamentally disagrees” with the findings of the tribunal, which was led by Judge Joop Labuschagne in April this year.

Karyn Maughan | Why the JSC is split on Hlophe’s fate of impeachment, suspension

Hlophe was found guilty of gross misconduct for trying to sway two Constitutional Court justices to rule in favour of then ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Zuma had sought to challenge the legality of search warrants, used by the then Scorpions Unit, to seize thousands of pages of evidence, largely on the basis that some of the documents, which were seized from his lawyer’s office, might breach attorney-client privilege, News24 reported. 

It is alleged that Hlophe told Justice Bess Nkabinde, who was writing a note on privilege for her Constitutional Court colleagues, that the issue needed to be decided “properly”.

But the judge president has remained adamant that he was not trying to influence either Nkabinde or Justice Chris Jafta, to whom he had said: “sesithembele kinina” (we pin our hopes on you).

Hlophe’s attorney, Barnabas Xulu, previously said: “The tribunal misdirected itself on numerous procedural and substantive issues, rendering its findings unjustified.

“Judge President Hlophe’s view is that the tribunal’s decision was not based on the evidence, but considerations that were irrelevant to the facts,” he said in April.

In June, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) urged the JSC to finalise the matter, decide whether to endorse the tribunal’s finding, and to refer the matter to the National Assembly for impeachment.

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