JSC recommends Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe be suspended

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The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has resolved to recommend to President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend the Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe.

This decision was taken during the JSC’s meeting late on Monday.

The JSC had found Hlophe guilty of gross misconduct for attempting to influence two retired justices of the Constitutional Court in a matter involving former President Jacob Zuma in 2008.

The decision of the Judicial Service Commission comes while the Supreme Court Appeal (SCA) is yet to hear an application by Judge Hlophe after the Johannesburg High Court dismissed his earlier review application for the court to set aside the decision of the JSC – which has found him guilty of gross misconduct last year.

In a carefully worded statement, the JSC says that in its meeting without the Members of Parliament serving in the commission, it has deliberated and resolved to advise the President to suspend Hlophe in terms of Section 177(3) of the Constitution after it has found him guilty of gross misconduct.

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.”

Winde welcomes Hlophe’s suspension recommendations

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has welcomed the recommendation to suspend Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

He says given the serious nature of the finding of gross misconduct, he voted in favour of suspending him.

Winde says the matter must be concluded.

“Our judicial system needs to be respected. We need to see integrity and I absolutely welcome this finding and support it. We need to make sure that we see the judiciary as impartial [and] we see the integrity of the justice system. I think it is only correct that after the findings of this tribunal that [recommended that] this Judge be suspended and we await the outcome of the President’s decision,” adds Winde.

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