Freedom Under Law backs call for suspension of judge president Hlophe
Freedom Under Law (FUL) says it supports a call made by the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) for Western Cape judge president John Hlophe to be placed on special leave.
FUL was reacting to a complaint lodged by Hlophe’s deputy Patricia Goliath to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Tuesday last week, saying that Hlophe and his wife Gayaat Salie-Hlophe should be investigated for “gross misconduct”.
Goliath accused Hlophe of attempting to interfere in the legal challenge to the inter-governmental agreement between SA and Russian nuclear agency Rosatom.
She also alleged there had been physical assault by Hlophe on other judges as well as intimidation, victimisation and abuse.
Hlophe’s lawyers have slammed Goliath’s complaint as based on “gossip”.
On Thursday, Nadel called on chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to place Hlophe on special leave to allow judges to do their work without any tension until the complaint was fully dealt with and concluded.
FUL, after its board met on Sunday, said Nadel's call was right in principle. “No judge should sit in judgment while himself facing serious allegations which go to his or her fitness to hold office, let alone lead a court,” said the organisation.
The organisation said Hlophe was compromised.
“Until such time as a proper investigation is completed and all consequential processes - which may include impeachment - are completed, judge president Hlophe cannot be allowed to exercise the powers of a judge,” it said.
It said it was nothing short of a disgrace that nearly 12 years on, the complaint laid by all 10 constitutional court judges against Hlophe for his attempt to interfere in their consideration of matters relating to then president Jacob Zuma remained unresolved.
“FUL was obliged to institute legal proceedings against the JSC to compel it to do its duty.”