JSC INTERVIEWS: JSC likely to decide on Hlophe this week
THE Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Monday "deferred" until later this week a decision on whether Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe should face a judicial conduct tribunal over a complaint of gross misconduct.
The JSC spent the day behind closed doors in a private meeting. One of the thorny issues it faced was whether to adopt the recommendation of its subcommittee, the judicial conduct committee, that Judge Hlophe should face a tribunal after the committee found that he was, prima facie, guilty of impeachable gross misconduct.
The complaint against Judge Hlophe has remained unresolved for more than four years now. In 2008, all the then-justices of the Constitutional Court complained that Judge Hlophe had improperly sought to influence the outcome of judgments, then pending before their court, relating to corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.
JSC spokesmen Dumisa Ntsebeza SC and CP Fourie said Monday’s meeting was the first time the JSC had met since the recommendation, and there were "many other things to consider". But they added that the decision on Judge Hlophe would be made this week, most likely on Wednesday.
On other matters facing the commission, Mr Ntsebeza and Mr Fourie said Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe had assured the JSC that regulations governing judicial conduct tribunals would be promulgated on Wednesday. This would clear the path for those tribunals that had already received the nod from the JSC to get under way, including the complaint of racism against North Gauteng High Court Judge Nkola Motata by civil rights organisation AfriForum.
Mr Ntsebeza said the JSC was also still "considering its options" on whether to appeal against a recent Supreme Court of Appeal judgment that set aside as irrational the JSC interviews for the Western Cape in April last year. The judgment held that the JSC had to be able to give reasons for its decisions in order to avoid a finding of irrationality. However, Mr Ntsebeza said that, after carefully studying the judgment, the JSC was "fairly confident that we are able to comply with its dictates".
"We will not act recklessly now in a manner that pretends there is no such judgment," he said.
He would not be drawn, however, on whether the JSC would, from now on, record reasons for whom it recommended and whom it overlooked.