Parties and civil organisations disappointed over MKP's John Hlophe election to JSC

Impeached Judge President John Hlophe was officially elected to represent the National Assembly on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Impeached Judge President John Hlophe was officially elected to represent the National Assembly on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Published Jul 9, 2024


The Democratic Alliance (DA), Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and Judges Matter are among organisations who came out guns blazing, without a blink, suggesting the National Assembly made a flop by electing impeached Judge John Hlophe to serve in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The house passed a motion during a sitting of the House in Cape Town, Western Cape on Tuesday.

Judges Matter research and advocacy officer Mbekezeli Benjamin said they were disappointed by the National Assembly’s choice to appoint MPs with a history of misconduct as members of the Judicial Service Commission and Magistrates Commission.

According to Benjamin, the decision to appoint the likes of Hlophe and Faith Muthambi undermined the credibility of the commissions and the integrity of the judiciary.

Hlophe was impeached earlier this year, after Parliament voted in favour of the motion. About 305 members voted in support, while 25 voted against his removal.

He was the first judge to be impeached since democracy.

In 2008, Hlophe faced accusations of trying to sway the Constitutional Court's ruling regarding the Scorpions' search and seizure operations on the assets of French arms manufacturer Thint and Jacob Zuma.

He was then found guilty of gross misconduct by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

Former communications minister Muthambi was exposed in Gupta leak reports for sharing secret Cabinet details with the Gupta family.

Benjamin said the Parliament’s decision is also contrary to the spirit, purport and objects of the Constitution.

"It is plainly irrational in relation to the injunction by section 165(4) of the Constitution, which requires that Parliament takes measures to protect the independence and dignity of the courts," he said.

He added: "It is a cruel irony that aspirant judicial officers will be assessed on their ethics, integrity and fitness for judicial office by commissioners who themselves have been found guilty of misconduct. Judges Matter reiterates our call for a written Code of Conduct for all commissioners, with a mechanism to recall those commissioners who do not uphold the terms of the code."

Reacting to the matter, the DA said it was neither reasonable nor rational to elect Hlophe as a representative of the National Assembly on the JSC.

The DA argued and stated reasons why the matter should be debated longer than today (Tuesday).

Some of the reasons are as follows:

- It is a matter of public record that Dr Hlophe lost the status as a judge of the High Court in South Africa, as a consequence of a finding of gross misconduct by the Judicial Services Commission.

- The second reason why Parliament should not elect Dr Hlophe is to be found in the Constitutional obligation which we as members of the National Assembly enjoy to assist and protect the Judiciary in order to ensure its independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness.

According to the DA, this poses the risk of paralysing the JSC and tying it up in endless review proceedings.

Meanwhile, parties like the ANC, EFF, PAC, Al-Jama-ah and ATM supported the election of Hlophe to the body.

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