The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has denied allegations that it gave in to pressure from NGOs and others in its decision to advise President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe.
The JSC had faced criticism from organisations including the Freedom Under Law.
In May, the Johannesburg High Court dismissed his earlier review application to set aside last year’s finding by the JSC that Hlophe was guilty of gross misconduct.
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein is yet to hear Judge Hlophe’s application against the high court’s decision.
Judicial Service Commission (JSC) spokesperson Doris Tshepe says, “The reason it wasn’t done was, there was a possible suspension and the JSC had agreed that we will not make a decision regarding suspension, pending the decision of the High Court, on the review. That decision has since come, and so the JSC was following its processes. There was no pressure from anybody. This was part of the decision of the JSC processes.”
The video below is the full interview with JSC spokesperson Doris Tshepe:
BLA express reservations
The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) says while it respects the discretion of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to recommend the suspension of Hlophe, it has some reservations about the way in which the Hlophe matter has been handled.
BLA President Bayete Maswazi says, “We noted and we respect the decision that is reposed to both the institution of the Presidency as well as the institution of the Judiciary Service Commission. But we maintain our view that the removal or the procedure to remove Judge President Hlophe has had its own problems. The misconduct itself was characterised by the judiciary conduct committee and how the matter has been handled by the JSC.”
Too early to form an opinion on Hlophe matter: ANC
The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament says it will wait for Parliament to be informed regarding recommendations for the suspension of Hlophe before commenting.
ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina says it’s too early to form an opinion on the matter now.
“We will wait for the proper processes when the matter is referred properly in line with the protocols of Parliament. It’s only then that we are going to comment on the matter of the JSC recommendation. We cannot speak on behalf of the President.”
“The President has not as yet commented on the matter. And we must respect at all times, respect the separation of powers. We are a legislative arm and the JSC has not recommended it to us. They are recommending it to the president. We are going to get a quote from there whether the matter is going to be brought to us as the national assembly or not.”
COPE welcomes suspension recommendation
Congress of the People (COPE) in Parliament says it supports the decision of the Judicial Service Commission for Hlophe to be suspended.
COPE National Spokesperson Dennis Bloem says, “The integrity and dignity of the judiciary must always be protected. Nobody is above the law. We support this step. It is a step in the right direction. Judge President John Hlophe – a dark cloud is hanging over his head. He must be suspended.”
VIDEO | JSC recommends that the President suspends Judge President John Hlophe: