Hlophe case less than just

The Judicial Service Commission's decision not to go ahead with the inquiry into Cape Judge President John Hlophe will inevitably be met with mixed feelings.

The Judicial Service Commission's decision not to go ahead with the inquiry into Cape Judge President John Hlophe will inevitably be met with mixed feelings.

It was to be expected.

The issues pertaining to Hlophe have from the outset divided the legal profession and country, sometimes along racial lines.

Hlophe's record of infractions, ranging from his allegedly calling fellow judges unsavoury names to his brave stance in tackling white racism in the Cape provincial divisions, have made him at once a hero and charlatan.

The decision clearly smacks of something akin to an out-of-court settlement in which all the parties go home unsatisfied but probably happier than sad.

As chairperson of the General Council of the Bar Patric Mtshaulane put it: "not all members . [of the General Council of the Bar] will be happy with the outcome" but "that's just the nature of this matter".

Obviously the decision arrived at by the majority was meant to address the fissures between Hlophe and the Constitutional Court judges rather than to establish which of the two versions was probably true.

It is less than just, but under the circumstances a settlement we can live with.

It is a bitter pill for all parties to swallow, as political settlements inevitably are.

All parties need to show leadership, avoid brinkmanship and work together towards healing the rifts in the judiciary.

All of them have to help the new Chief Justice in the campaign for the renewal of the judiciary.

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