Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe has been found guilty of gross misconduct for trying to sway two Constitutional Court justices to rule in favour of then ANC President Jacob Zuma.

The Judicial Service Commission has released a statement confirming that a Judicial Conduct Tribunal headed by retired judge Joop Labuschagne had found that “Hlophe’s conduct breached the provision of section 165 of the Constitution in that he improperly attempted to influence” Justices Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde “to violate their oaths of office”.

Both testified that Hlophe had sought to influence their ruling on Zuma’s 2008 challenge to the legality of the search warrants used by the then Scorpions unit to seize 93 000 documents now being used as evidence in the corruption case against him. The Judge President also claimed that Zuma had been persecuted, just as he had been persecuted.

Unanimous

The tribunal has also found that Hlophe’s conduct “seriously threatened and interfered with the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of the Constitutional Court, and his conduct threatened public confidence in the judicial system”. Its unanimous report has now been forwarded to the JSC chairperson Mogoeng Mogoeng.

While gross misconduct is an impeachable offense, Hlophe’s impeachment is not a foregone conclusion as the JSC still needs to consider the Tribunal’s report and its response to it.

 

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