Western Cape High Court fallout: Judges Goliath and Hlophe asked to make representations

2020-02-12 12:00

Western High Court Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath and Judge President John Hlophe have been invited to make representations to the judicial conduct committee on or before February 17 after the pair laid complaints against each other.

The committee’s secretariat on Tuesday announced that after careful consideration Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo had concluded that if established, either of the two complaints would be likely to lead to a finding of gross misconduct against the responding judge.

“Accordingly, as required by section 16(1) of the Judiciary Service Commission Act in such a case, the deputy chief justice has referred the two complaints to the judicial conduct committee to consider whether it should recommend to the JSC that the two complaints be investigated and reported on by a tribunal,” read the statement.

Since the meeting of the committee at which it will consider whether to recommend to the JSC that one or both of the complaints be investigated and reported on by a tribunal on February 21 at the Constitutional Court, the pair has been urged to make their representations on or before February 17.

“They [judges] have also been informed that, if they obtain leave from the deputy chief justice, they may address the committee,” the statement said.

Last month Goliath lodged a complaint with the committee against Hlophe and his wife Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.

In her affidavit, Goliath accused Hlophe of giving his wife preferential treatment.

She also alleged that he had assaulted and verbally abused two judges.

She further accused Hlophe of attempting to influence the appointment of judges perceived as “favourably disposed” to former president Jacob Zuma to preside over the Earthlife Africa case involving the nuclear deal.

Goliath said under Hlophe “a climate of fear and intimidation prevailed in the high court”.

According to her complaint, Salie-Hlophe wielded enormous power, including determining her own working conditions as well as having major clout in the appointment of acting judges.

The statement by conduct committee said the complaint by Goliath against Salie-Hlophe was still receiving consideration and the parties will be informed shortly of the outcome or the way forward.

After dismissing Goliath’s complaint and labelling it as having “all the hallmarks of a paranoid judge with little appreciation of collegiality, restraint, composure and confidentiality,” last week Hlophe proceeded to lodged his own complaint against Goliath.

In a 100-page, no-holds-barred affidavit to the chairperson of the conduct committee, Hlophe fired back accusing Goliath of leaking her complaint – which was filed with the JSC – to the media “for no constitutionally sound reason but to promote public antipathy towards me and the administration and to trigger a malicious process for my removal as judge president”.

The conduct committee’s statement said: “At the conduct committee meeting scheduled for February 21, the panel is set to recommend to the JSC that the complaints or one of them be investigated and reported on by a tribunal; or will refer one of the complaints or both complaints to the deputy chief justice so that he may designate a member of the committee to conduct an inquiry in terms of section 17 of the JSC Act to determine the merits of the complaint”.

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March 29 2020