Report emerges containing allegations of plot to kill his deputy.
Controversial Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe should long have been removed from the bench and delaying a determination on the merits of previous complaints is bad for the judiciary and the country, retired Constitutional Court judge Johann Kriegler says.
“We have long ago said Judge Hlophe should not be on the bench at the moment. In fact, we think he should not be there at all. We have long said he should be investigated,” Kriegler said.
Kriegler, the chairperson of Freedom Under Law, a public interest litigation organisation, was responding to the latest allegations of an assassination plot contained in a report by the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services.
The report, which the justice department has referred to the SA Police Service and the State Security Agency, reportedly names Hlophe in a plot to kill his deputy, Judge Patricia Goliath.
According to the Daily Maverick, Barnabas Xulu, Hlophe’s lawyer, has denied the assassination allegations in a general statement that said Hlophe was shocked by the publication of the story as the averments were baseless and false.
But Kriegler contends that the mere fact that such serious allegations were publicly made against the person of Hlophe’s standing was worrying.
“It is bad for the image of the judiciary if any judge is the subject matter of public speculation and contention. If that person is a senior judge, the judge president of the oldest court in the country, it is even more disturbing.
“It is a pity Judge Hlophe has been for years the subject matter of public contention … he attracts contention from time to time. We do not need people like that on the bench. Judges must be seen and heard in court only. That’s is ideal,” he said.
Kriegler said for 12 years the Judicial Service Commission have not dealt with the merits of the 2008 complaint lodged against Hlophe, in which he was accused of trying to persuade two justices to swing a judgment in favour of then ANC president Jacob Zuma.
“It is inexcusable. It should have been resolved one way or the other,” he said.