The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is set to meet virtually on Wednesday, to make a decision on how to deal with the Judicial Conduct Tribunal’s finding that the Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe is guilty of gross misconduct.
The meeting was scheduled to take place last month, however, it was postponed due to the ill-health of two of its members.
Hlophe was found guilty of gross misconduct for trying to sway two Constitutional Court justices to rule in favour of then ANC President Jacob Zuma. Zuma had sought to challenge the legality of search warrants, used by the then Scorpions Unit, to seize thousands of pages of evidence from his lawyer’s office.
It is alleged that Hlophe told Justice Bess Nkabinde, who was writing a note on privilege for her Constitutional Court colleagues, that the issue needed to be decided “properly”. But the Judge President has remained adamant that he was not trying to influence either Nkabinde or Justice Chris Jafta, to whom he had said: “sesithembele kinina”.
In April, Constitutional law expert Advocate Paul Hoffman said there is a possibility that President Cyril Ramaphosa will suspend Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe after the JSC tribunal found him guilty of misconduct.
Hoffman explains what process should be followed before a judge is suspended: “The first thing that needs to happen is that the Judicial Service Commission must recommend to the President that Judge President Hlophe be suspended pending the finalisation of the disciplinary process against him. The finding of misconduct on his part, if confirmed by the Judicial Service Commission, will lead to a vote in the National Assembly.”