Removing a judge is not a cake baking process, Judge President John Hlope’s lawyer says
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DURBAN - JUDGE President John Hlophe’s lawyer Barnabas Xulu said Hlophe’s proposed impeachment required constitutional rules and was not a “cake-baking process.”
Xulu reacted to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) judgment to impeach Hlophe after finding him guilty of judicial misconduct. The JSC has given Hlophe and the Constitutional Court until September 3 to make submissions.
Last week, the JSC voted that Hlophe should be removed from office. The JSC found Hlophe guilty of trying to influence the outcomes of former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption charges in 2008.
“In this country, we have no rules to impeach a judge. The so-called plan to remove a judge at this stage will be unconstitutional. People must know this is not a cake-baking process. It requires rules and the constitution to dictate what should happen. We are going to make a considered view, for now, we are not going to pre-empt anything.
“I am not surprised that the media reported selectively and paid more attention to one part of the judgment and forgot the other.
“There is a split decision and no one is emphasising this. Even if we highlight this they will never speak about it because all they want is to push their own agenda,” Xulu said.
Civil rights movement Democracy in Action spokesperson Thabo Mtsweni said they will go to the highest court in the land to defend Hlophe, who risks becoming the first judge to be forced out of office since the dawn of democracy.
“I will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly and request Parliament to provide it with the laws it will use in removing Hlophe. If we are not satisfied with the reasons, we will approach the Constitutional Court to challenge the decision,” Mtsweni said.
“We will not allow people with certain narrow agendas to abuse our democracy and illegally remove people they do not like. We have a responsibility to defend our constitutional democracy,” said Mtsweni.
JSC spokesperson advocate Dali Mpofu said everyone is allowed to approach the courts or Parliament. He said the JSC would allow Parliament to do its job, as expected.
Law expert Nthabiseng Dubazana said to impeach Hlophe after 13 years “makes no sense”. Dubazana questioned what the impeachment was based on, stating that some of the cross-examination done during the hearing showed that the judges were not influenced by Hlophe.
“They are dealing with someone who is going to take this on review.”