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'Hlophe allegations form part of prevailing abusive climate in W Cape judiciary'

28 January 2020 10:01 AM
Tags:
Freedom Under Law
Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe
Western Cape judiciary

FUL's Nicole Fritz says Goliath's claims add to a decade-old improper conduct complaint against Judge Hlophe by ConCourt judges.

There are mounting calls for the Judge Hlophe matter to be dealt with at the highest level, and with great urgency.

Freedom Under Law has added their voice to the throng which includes the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Cape Bar, who has also reportedly called for urgent action.

This comes after Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accused Hlophe of verbally abusing him and of trying to steer the 2015 appointment of judges in a case linked to former President Zuma. She has submitted a 15-page statement detailing her complaints to the Judicial Services Commission.

Refilwe Moloto talks to FUL's CEO, Nicole Fritz who echoes Goliath's sentiment that Hlophe is a threat to the integrity judicial system, and it has been a long time coming.

This is not the first time FUL has raised concerns.

She says the complaint by Goliath happens against a backdrop of a complaint against Judge John Hlophe by all justices of the Constitutional Court over a decade ago.

The complaint then was that he attempted to influence several of the judges of the Constitutional Court in order to determine a matter in a way that was favourable to Jacob Zuma, who had yet to become president.

Nicole Fritz, CEO - Freedom Under Law (FUL)

She says included in Goliath's statement are allegations that Hlophe wanted to allocate the case where South African environmental and anti-nuclear organisation Earthlife Africa challenged the nuclear deal, to judges who he deemed more favourable to then-president Zuma, who he believed that Zuma had been wrongfully criticised.

Why has no action been taken over the years by the Judicial Servies Commission?

Fritz acknowledges it is a fairly convoluted process and in this instance, Hlophe has managed to delay the process with various procedural applications.

There is some frustration that the JSC has not acted with the urgency that is required.

Nicole Fritz, CEO - Freedom Under Law (FUL)

She hopes the latest complaint will lend wait and see the JSC taking action with the deputy judge president adding her voice to the voices of the full bench of Constitutional Court judges.

It's hard to imagine a complaint that could be more serious than that, from the full bench of the highest court of the land, that there was an attempt to influence them.

Nicole Fritz, CEO - Freedom Under Law (FUL)

This latest complaint?

Aside from accusations that Hlophe has been using his powers in an improper and abuse way, there are other issues of concern.

It speaks to the climate that is prevailing in the Western Cape...allegations of physical abuse against one judge, victimisation, and intimidation - it is hard to imagine these are the conditions in which judges are working.

Nicole Fritz, CEO - Freedom Under Law (FUL)

It raises the huge risk in the public's ability to trust and have confidence in the judiciary, she says.

Fritz says the conditions do not relate to one single judge, but the most serious allegations are against the judge president, who should be leading.

Judge Goliath alleges she has been disabled and incapacitated in her powers and the functions she is supposed to perform, by the judge president.

Nicole Fritz, CEO - Freedom Under Law (FUL)

Listen to the interview below:


28 January 2020 10:01 AM
Tags:
Freedom Under Law
Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe
Western Cape judiciary

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