THE Judicial Services Commission has scratched Cape Judge President John Hlophe from its shortlist for four vacancies on the Constitutional Court. But the grounds on which it has done so remain opaque.
If it was because of his discussion with two of that court’s judges about how Jacob Zuma was being victimised in a matter before them, the JSC has contradicted itself.
On the one hand, it has said that Hlophe’s behaviour was insufficiently serious to warrant a hearing. On the other it is saying it was sufficiently grave to disqualify him from a seat on the highest bench in the land.
Surely the JSC should provide reasons for its decision to settle this burning question?
The judges who were shortlisted were Johan Froneman, Raymond Zondo, Mogoeng wa Mogoeng, Mandisa Maya, Sisi Khampepe, Leona Theron and Chris Jafta.
Helen Zille, Leader of the Democratic Alliance
12 June 2009
Without an independent judiciary, the doctrine of the separation of powers becomes a dead letter, the rule of law disintegrates, and democracy dies.
We all know that “transformation” is a code word the ANC uses to justify the extension of its control over state institutions that should be independent from the ruling party. Cadre deployment is the key tool of “transformation” that seeks to make these institutions accountable to the ANC, rather than to the Constitution. This is why it was worrying to hear President Jacob Zuma talk about the “transformation of the judiciary” in his State of the Nation Address. Read More…
THE latest developments in the conflict between Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe and the Constitutional Court are cause for grave concern.
The court announced it was to lay a complaint against Hlophe for improperly attempting to influence its judges in matters related to ANC President Jacob Zuma.
But the two judges who laid the initial complaint have now backed off to the consternation of their colleagues.
The Judicial Services Commission must now decide how to proceed. It should stop looking for leaks and start restoring public confidence by conducting a transparent probe.
IN October last year, eight high profile advocates from the Cape Bar publicly called on Cape Judge President John Hlophe to quit.
They said in a letter that was published in the Cape Times: “We believe that there cannot be public confidence in the continuation in office now of Judge Hlophe.”
They were speaking after the Judicial Services Commission took the disgraceful decision to cease a probe in Hlophe’s unseemly receipt of money from the Oasis group.
They wrote their letter of protest after former Constitutional Court Judge Johann Kriegler took the unprecedented step of writing in the Sunday Times that Hlophe’s was guilty of improper conduct and should not continue to serve on the bench.
These powerful voices from the legal fraternity, including advocates Jeremy Gauntlett, Peter Hodes, and Schalk Burger fell on deaf ears.
The Judicial Services Commission ignored their plea — and that of Kriegler, a highly respected senior judge and the man who ran South Africa’s first democratic election as head of the Independent Electoral Commission.
They failed in their duty to act and act decisively to remove this stain from the fabric of our society.
Now we are reaping the crop of weeds sewed by the JSC’s failure.
Had they acted with haste to deal with Hlophe last year, they would not now face having to respond to a complaint from the Constitutional Court that Hlophe tried to irregularly influence members of its bench with regard to a matter related to ANC President Jacob Zuma.
The tiny weed that could have been snatched from the ground last year has grown into a monstrous bush that must be rooted out at some cost to the nation.
This time the JSC must act quickly to show it is not a dog and pony show for the ruling party.