Hlophe case a grave public issue – judges
The judges of the Western Cape High Court have agreed that for as long as the allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Judge President John Hlophe remain unresolved, the public’s confidence in the division will be impaired.
The complaint against Hlophe and his wife, Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe, was laid at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) last month by Hlophe’s deputy, Judge Patricia Goliath.
“Allegations and counterallegations arising from the complaint made by Goliath DJP and Hlophe JP are in the public domain,” a joint statement said this week.
“For as long as the allegations remain unresolved, the confidence which the public is entitled to place in the integrity of the Western Cape Branch will be impaired.”
The judges also denied that any judge had remained silent on the alleged issues raised.
“It has been suggested in the press that the judges of this division have remained silent through cowardice or complicity. That is emphatically not so.
“Given the procedure for investigating complaints against judges, the proper place for judges with relevant knowledge to speak is before the JCC and any Judicial Conduct Tribunal that may be established.
“We can assure the public that we have always adjudicated, and will always adjudicate, cases allocated to us fearlessly and with absolute impartiality.”
The judges said they welcomed the Judicial Conduct Committee’s assurance via a statement that it would deal with the complaint “without fear, favour or prejudice and as expeditiously as reasonably practicable”, following the allegations and counter-allegations made by Deputy Judge President Goliath, the judge president and Salie-Hlophe.
A 14-page complaint was lodged by Goliath against the Hlophes last month.
Denying there was any merit to the complaint, the judge president and Salie-Hlophe dismissed it as containing gossip, rumours and information “obtained from the grapevine”.
Goliath in her affidavit accused Hlophe and Salie-Hlophe of “gross misconduct” which, she charges, compromised the proper functioning of the highest court in the province.
Preferential treatment for his wife, assaulting and verbally abusing two judges and attempting to influence the appointment of judges perceived as “favourably disposed” to former president Jacob Zuma were among the claims contained in the document.
Goliath said a climate of fear and intimidation prevailed in the High Court, claiming she was operating in an “unsafe, unhealthy and oppressive working environment”. – News24 Wire