Hlophe case a grave pub­lic is­sue – judges

The Citizen (KZN) - - News -

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

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