war over Judge hlophe heats up

THE war of words over Cape Judge President John Hlophe's return to work is getting hotter - with senior legal counsel Dumisa Ntsebeza lashing out at retired judge Johann Kriegler for "patronising black people in his campaign against the Judicial Services Commission".

THE war of words over Cape Judge President John Hlophe's return to work is getting hotter - with senior legal counsel Dumisa Ntsebeza lashing out at retired judge Johann Kriegler for "patronising black people in his campaign against the Judicial Services Commission".

And controversial Rhema church leader Pastor Ray McCauley yesterday accused Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Kriegler of waging "a personal vendetta" against Hlophe.

McCauley was adding his voice to the growing controversy over Kriegler's announcement that he would challenge the commission's decision to drop all charges of misconduct against Hlophe.

"It is difficult not to suspect that the action might be more about personalities and politics than the protection of the Constitution," McCauley said.

Ntsebeza quit Kriegler's organisation, Freedom Under Law, on Saturday, saying Kriegler's patronising attitude towards black people offended him.

"I can't be in the same organisation as he if that is how I feel," Ntsebeza said.

Kriegler last week announced that Freedom Under Law, which includes Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and top businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele as board members, would challenge the commission's decision to drop all charges of misconduct against Hlophe.

The decision has cleared the way for Hlophe to return to work but was condemned last week by Kriegler who described it as the "biggest threat to the rule of law the country has experienced since it emerged from darkness".

In reaction, acting judge Kgomotso Moroka, business tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa and Ntsebeza resigned from Freedom Under Law, saying Kriegler had not consulted them.

Yesterday, Freedom Under Law said it would proceed with its case against the commission and said it trusted that Ntsebeza, Moroka and Ramaphosa might "rejoin" the organization in future.

But Ntsebeza told Sowetan: "I am done with Freedom Under Law".

Rhema church's McCauley, 'national convenor' of the National Inter-faith Leaders Council (NILC), also slammed Kriegler's court bid, calling it an "open attack on the integrity of the Judicial Services Commission".

But the South African Council of Churches said it does not support McCauley's statements. General secretary Eddie Makue told Sowetan "we don't know on whose behalf the NILC is speaking".

McCauley nailed his colours to the ANC mast earlier this year when he invited President Jacob Zuma to address the Rhema congregation just before the national elections.

Rhema Church spokesperson Vusi Mona, who is now the head of communications in the Presidency, claimed at the time that the invitation did not mean that the church was endorsing the ANC.

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