Rage over closed Hlophe hearing

Anna Majavu and Mhlaba Memela

Anna Majavu and Mhlaba Memela

Sowetan's parent company Avusa, Independent Newspapers, the Mail and Guardian and the Freedom of Expression Institute will this morning ask the Johannesburg high court to force the Judicial Service Commission to open the hearings into the alleged misconduct of Judge John Hlophe.

The DA has also written to the JSC seeking reasons on why the media was barred from the hearing.

Hlophe, pictured, is alleged to have told Constitutional Court judges Bess Nkabinde and Chris Jafta that he had a mandate to ensure that the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of ANC president Jacob Zuma's application to have the 2005 Scorpions raids on his homes declared invalid.

Hlophe was put on special leave after the scandal erupted, but won a minor victory when the Johannesburg high court ruled that the Constitutional Court had breached Hlophe's right to dignity by releasing a press statement.

The court also ruled that it was in the public interest for the JSC to investigate the complaint.

The hearing into complaints that Hlophe tried to improperly influence the Constitutional Court in June last year starts tomorrow and the JSC has closed it to the public.

The JSC yesterday refused to back down on its decision to bar the media.

"Our decision to close the hearings still stands," JSC chairperson Marumo Moerane said.

The JSC said it would this morning give its reasons for barring the media from the hearing.