Hlophe wants 2 judges probed

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Cape Judge President John Hlophe has called for Constitutional Court Chief Justice Pius Langa and his deputy, Dikgang Moseneke, to be investigated for gross misconduct - grounds for their possible impeachment.

This after the Constitutional Court laid a formal complaint against Hlophe with the Judicial Services Commission last month.

The Constitutional Court complained that Hlophe allegedly asked constitutional court judges Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde, in separate meetings, to rule in favour of ANC president Jacob Zuma's application to have the Scorpions' search warrants used in raids on his homes in 2005 declared illegal.

In his response to the constitutional Court's allegations, Hlophe denied that he had done anything improper.

Hlophe also denied the Constitutional Court's accusation that he told Nkabinde that he was "connected to members of national intelligence".

The Constitutional Court also claimed that Hlophe "had said (to Jafta) that the case against Zuma should be looked at properly ... and added words to the effect that you are our last hope".

Hlophe said that he made this remark but not in connection with asking for a positive ruling in the Zuma case.

The Constitutional Court now has five days to send its reaction to Hlophe's response to the Judicial Services Commission.

If the commission finds that Hlophe acted improperly it can ask President Thabo Mbeki to impeach him.

Some political parties say calls for impeachment from both sides are eroding the credibility of the matter, which should just be shelved. But others say Hlophe has overstepped the mark by calling for gross misconduct charges against the two.

Azapo general secretary Dan Habedi said Hlophe "is clutching at straws. We know he was a victim of racism in the past and we hope this is not the case right now".

ANC spokesman Jessie Duarte said: "He is calling for the justice to be impeached. We can't comment on that."

But UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said: "One can simply say that we are chasing a red herring here because the Constitutional Court judges have reacted over high level gossip between three judges. This thing should just be shelved."

The Independent Democrat's Patricia de Lille said: "The speculation created by these responses is not good for the independence of the judiciary.

"The Judicial Services Commission will have to make the finanl decision.

JSC spokesman Marumo Moerane declined to comment.