President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended judge John Hlophe with immediate effect starting from today 14 December 2022.
Hlophe who is the Western Cape High Court Judge President will only be allowed to conclude his pending cases as he is accused of serious misconduct.
Hlope alleged improperly attempt to influence the outcome of certain cases pending before the Constitutional Court in favour of former President Jacob Zuma back in 2008.
“In order to ensure continuity and stability in the work of the divisional high court, the suspension, which is in effect immediately, is on condition that Judge President Hlophe completes all part-heard matters and reserved judgments,” the statement from the Presidency reads.
In July this year, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) recommended Ramaphosa to suspend Hlope in terms of section 177(3) of the Constitution. This section empowers the President, on the advice of the JSC to suspend a judge who is found guilty of gross misconduct.
The Judicial Conduct Tribunal (JCT) that investigated Hlope concluded that his conduct breached the provisions of section 165 of the Constitution by improperly attempting to influence the two his colleagues to violate their oaths of office.
“President Ramaphosa received the JSC report on the 27th of July 2022. Due to the long history and complexity of the matter, President Ramaphosa took time to carefully consider all the permutations of the JSC recommendations, including obtaining guidance from an independent legal opinion,” the Presidency added.
Ramaphosa’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya said, before suspending Hlophe, Ramaphosa fully appreciated the need to balance Judge President Hlophe’s rights with those of the public and the interest of the judiciary as a whole.
“The JCT established that Judge Hlophe’s behavior seriously threatened and interfered with the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of the Constitutional Court and further undermined public confidence in the judicial system. The JSC has referred the matter to parliament for the National Assembly to institute impeachment proceedings against Judge President Hlophe,” Magwenya said.