Embattled Western Cape Judge President, John Hlophe, has been given a second chance to file his appeal papers at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.
Hlophe now has until 21st January 2023 to file his papers. This is after his lawyers made a request to the court to challenge a decision by the Judicial Services Commission to impeach him.
In June, the Gauteng High Court granted him leave to appeal the impeachment decision.
Hlophe’s lawyers wrote to the SCA requesting another extension. This is after they missed an earlier extension in October from the court due to funding delays.
The lawyers requested time until 15th December 2022 but the court granted them an extension until 21st January 2023. Hlophe was found guilty by the Judicial Services Commission in August 2021.
This was after the judicial conduct tribunal found that he had improperly sought to influence two of the Constitutional Court justices to violate their oaths of office concerning the corruption charges against former president Jacob Zuma in 2008.
It was found that Hlophe approached Constitutional court judges Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jafta and attempted to influence their decision in favour of Zuma in the case.
The High Court granted Hlophe leave to appeal a ruling of the JSC — which cleared the way for his potential impeachment.
While finding that Hlophe’s leave to appeal application lacked merit, a full bench of the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, however, granted it, saying it “raised matters of significant public importance” — largely because Hlophe may become the first judge in South African history to be impeached.
A researcher from Judge Matters, Mbekezeli Benjamin weighs in. “We are concerned about the delays that have happened in this case. This is the second time that he has been given an extension. Often extensions are given when there is a problem with the preparation of a court record and we are not sure if this relates to that issue. Nevertheless, we believe that there is no legal impediment from the president taking action to suspend Judge Hlophe.”
Benjamin further says the organisation is concerned over new misconduct allegations levelled against Hlophe.
A Cape Town lawyer has alleged that the judge used foul language in denying his client a hearing. Hlophe’s comments on teaching black children about how the land was stolen have also sparked debate.
Benjamin says, “We understand that there have been new allegations that have surfaced about his conduct and we hope that the president will take action to place Judge Hlophe under suspension to stop further damage to the reputation of the judiciary.”
Hlophe’s conduct has also come under fire again following new allegations over his land remarks. Judges Matter a civil society organisation that monitors the South African judiciary says it hopes that the president will suspend Hlophe to stop further damage to the reputation of the judiciary.