JUDICIARY IN CRISIS

SAPS and State Security Agency to pick up investigation into alleged planned assassination of Judge Goliath

By Marianne Thamm 7 September 2020
Caption
Western Cape Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath and Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe. (Photos: judgesmatter.co.za | Elizabeth Sejake)

The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services has confirmed to Daily Maverick that it has received a preliminary report from the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services about the alleged planned assassination of Western Cape Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath.

Daily Maverick reported on 5 September that the investigation by the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) had found that reports of an alleged planned assassination of Goliath could not be discounted and warranted further investigation.

Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe named in investigation into alleged plot to kill fellow judge

On Friday 4 September, GroundUp published a report that a senior judge had been implicated in an alleged plot to assassinate Goliath by a prisoner held in Pietermaritzburg.

The report, which names Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, was sent to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and the Office of the Chief Justice.

On Monday 7 September Ministry of Justice spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said the report had been referred to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the State Security Agency “so that it can be processed within the spectrum of law enforcement agencies’ mandate”.

“We will be guided by these two departments as to what steps can be taken in the interim pending finalisation of the report,” said Phiri.

Goliath confirmed to Daily Maverick that on 3 June 2020 she had been contacted by members of the Grahamstown Bar, who were unknown to her at the time, and advised that a prisoner had called the office and had informed them that a “hit” had been placed on Goliath’s life by another judge.

Members of the Bar relayed the call to a judge at Grahamstown High Court, who suggested that they contact Goliath immediately. On the same day, she informed the Office of the Chief Justice of the alleged threat.

Added security measures were immediately put in place.

Goliath confirmed that she had received two reports from JICS relating to the “matter”, but would not make these public or discuss the contents.

After Goliath had reported the threats, JICS was tasked with investigating these, interviewing two prisoners.

The JICS report sets out how an awaiting trial prisoner in Pietermaritzburg had been present in a cell when another prisoner had received a call, allegedly recruiting him to a hit squad to eliminate Goliath.

The report says the prisoner, when questioned during the Jics investigation, had responded that the potential hitman had told him that the caller had named a third party who had allegedly ordered the hit on behalf of Hlophe.

Information in the report is that a sum of R3-million had been promised and while the planned hit had been called off, the would-be assassins had demanded payment and had been paid R200,000.

The report found that there was no motivation for the prisoners to make up such a complicated story and that they had stuck to it during interrogation. There was also no evidence or history, the report said, of mental illness in either.

The report also found that there was “no basis to discount” the allegation and that it was serious enough to warrant further investigation.

Attempts by Daily Maverick to obtain comment from Nathi Mncube, spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Justice, have been unsuccessful so far.

Prior to the publication of our breaking news story on Saturday, Daily Maverick offered Judge President Hlophe a right to reply to the allegations. There was no response.

Hlophe’s legal representative, Barnabas Xulu, issued a general statement on 6 September.

It read: “The allegations that our client ordered a hit on the Deputy Judge President surfaced in an article published by GroundUp on 4 September 2020 and was then circulated on various media platforms on 5 September 2020.

“Our client was shocked by the publications by the various media houses, as the averments are baseless and false.

“We will attend to consultation with our client during the week of 7 September 2020 and will thereafter respond comprehensively to the allegations as contained in the publications.” DM

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All Comments 5

  • It is good that all these things are coming to light. Too many years of whispers about the conduct of the judge without any consequences. Now it will have to be dealt with and brought out into the open. The judiciary can not afford to have these scandals. I admire the strength of character that Judge Goliath has demonstrated and may she continue to stand firm. And keep safe!

  • So many allegations have been made against judge Hlophe in various publications. Given the strict liability that exists in these circumstances, which a judge would (should) understand, it is strange that he has not sued them. I wonder why? Are their facts correct?

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