Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo announced on Monday that he had designated justice Nambitha Dambuza to conduct an inquiry into the complaint by Western Cape deputy judge president Patricia Goliath against judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.
In her complaint in January, Goliath accused Western Cape judge president John Hlophe and his wife, Salie-Hlophe, of gross misconduct.
Goliath also accused Hlophe of attempting to interfere in a legal challenge to the inter-governmental agreement between SA and Russian nuclear agency Rosatom.
After the complaint, Hlophe lodged his own complaint of gross misconduct against Goliath.
In his counter-complaint, Hlophe charged that Goliath had, in the performance of her judicial functions, made herself guilty of judicial misconduct.
In a statement issued by the secretariat of the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) on Monday, Zondo said he was satisfied that in the event of a valid complaint being established, the appropriate remedial action against Salie-Hlophe would be a lesser sanction than impeachment.
“Such remedial action includes an apology to the complainant, a reprimand, a written warning or appropriate counselling,” the secretariat said in a statement.
Zondo said in terms of section 17 of the Judicial Service Commission Act (JSCA), the inquiry by Dambuza, judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and a member of the JCC, need not be a formal inquiry but may be a formal inquiry if Dambuza decided it should be.
An inquiry conducted in terms of section 17 is required to be inquisitorial in nature and there is no onus on any person to prove or disprove any allegation of fact.
Last month, the secretariat said after considering Goliath’s complaint against Hlophe and his counter-complaint, Zondo was satisfied that each complaint, if established, would likely lead to a finding by the JSC that the respondent judge in each case was guilty of gross misconduct.
The secretariat said last month Zondo had referred the complaints by Goliath and Hlophe to the JCC to consider whether it should recommend to the JSC that they be investigated and reported on by a tribunal.