Disappointment as MKP’s John Hlophe Elected to JSC

Several organizations, including the Democratic Alliance (DA), Freedom Front Plus (FF+), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), and Judges Matter, criticized the National Assembly for electing impeached Judge John Hlophe to the Judicial Service Commission.

On Tuesday, the House passed a motion during a session in Cape Town, Western Cape.

Mbekezeli Benjamin, Judges Matter’s research and advocacy officer, expressed disappointment with the National Assembly’s decision to select MPs with a history of misbehavior to the Judicial Service Commission and Magistrates Commission.

According to Benjamin, the appointment of Hlophe and Faith Muthambi compromised the commissions’ legitimacy and the judiciary’s integrity.

Hlophe was impeached earlier this year, when Parliament approved the motion. Approximately 305 members voted in favor, with 25 voting against his dismissal.

He was the first judge to be impeached since democracy.

In 2008, Hlophe was accused of attempting to influence the Constitutional Court’s decision regarding the Scorpions’ search and seizure operations on the assets of French arms maker Thint and Jacob Zuma.

He was later found guilty of grave misconduct by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

Former Communications Minister Muthambi was exposed in Gupta leak claims for sharing confidential Cabinet information with the Gupta family.

Benjamin further stated that the Parliament’s decision is contradictory to the Constitution’s spirit, purpose, and purposes.

“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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