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Huge majority of MPs vote to impeach Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe

Huge majority of MPs vote to impeach Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe
Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Elizabeth Sejake)

An overwhelming majority of parliamentarians voted to impeach Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe on Thursday in a move the opposition said underscored the importance of upholding ethical standards.

On Wednesday afternoon, hours after suspended Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe’s urgent application to halt proceedings was scrapped from the court roll, Parliament voted overwhelmingly – 305 yeas to 27 nays – for the process of his removal from office to begin.

Later, MPs also voted for Judge Nkola Motata, who had attempted to wriggle out of a drunk driving incident by lying, to be removed by 296 yeas, one nay and 13 abstentions. Motata, alongside Hlophe, had also turned to the courts to stave off the vote.

Their impeachments result in the loss of the salaries for life paid to judges.

But what is a vote in the National Assembly without members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) being dragged out by Parliament’s protection services after endless trading of insults and jibes?

Earlier, presiding officer Cedrik Frolik announced that suspended EFF leader Julius Malema and five other suspended EFF members, as well as ANC MP and deputy minister Dipuo Peters, would not be allowed to vote.

Peters, deputy minister of small business development, was suspended in November 2023 for her role in State Capture, maladministration, corruption and mismanagement at Prasa.

Read more in Daily Maverick: John Hlophe — the Judge President who fought the law; decades later, the law won

After the vote, EFF bruisers Victoria Mente, Hlengiwe Mkaliphi, Nqobile Mhlongo and Natasha Ntlangwini were all escorted out for yelling that Freedom Front+ chief whip Corne Mulder was “the son of a racist” and thus also one.

Former Public Protector, fellow impeachee and now EFF MP Busisiwe Mkhwebane likened the vote to the “selling out of our liberation ideas”. She accused people with “racist tendencies” for abusing Hlophe who had served “with dignity”.

Democratic Alliance MP and shadow minister of justice and constitutional development Glynnis Breytenbach said Hlophe’s impeachment was “a pivotal moment in South Africa’s judiciary”.

Afterwards, a DA statement said that after 15 years, the party’s position that Hlophe “lacks the integrity to be a judge has been affirmed by the National Assembly which has adopted a resolution supporting the Judicial Service Commission’s finding that Hlophe should be removed”.

In the statement, Breytenbach continued that this was “a historic moment in our democratic history, where, for the first time, a judge will be impeached”.

The vote on Wednesday underscored “the importance of upholding the highest ethical standards, the rule of law, and the Constitution among judicial officers”, she said.

It also sent a clear message that “no one, regardless of their position or influence, is above the law”. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:


    If anyone is expecting applause for passing governance 101, test 1 after 30 years of failing, don’t.

    But if our flock of failures Hlophe, Motata and Mkhwebane need anyone to help wave them goodbye, please do give me a call.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    “Bruisers” is hilarious. Mindless schoolyard bullies who shout louder than their propensity to think allows, is perhaps more apt.

  • Simon Schaffer says:

    Good riddance to bad rubbish. Eventually.

  • Paul Private says:

    Imagine if all things can be dome in the same vein and manner. How much would be restored albeit the anc will be decimated

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    He made the mistake of upsetting the ANC. It has nothing to do with “upholding the integrity of the courts”. If he was a cadre in good standing it would never even had come to a vote.

    • Jane Crankshaw says:

      I have to agree with you Sydney Kaye….but I do wonder why the DA supports the decision?
      I have heard that Judge Hlophe, in an acrimonious divorce case, was fair, considerate and very professional, so am confused by the outcome of this impeachment proceedings.

      • JM McGill says:

        He was impeached because the evidence showed that he was mendacious and lacked the required integrity to be a judge.
        He caused great damage to the courts.

      • Peter Gibb says:

        Maybe he is a curate’s egg, Jane, but when it comes to a judge you can’t have any bad bits.

        • Rainer Thiel says:

          Hlophe is a very bad egg. From trying to influence oncourt judges in their deliberations wrt Zuma (remember that) to threatening and abusing his colleagues, he is morally bankrupt. I don’t give rats arse what the likes of Busisiwe and others may argue in this defence. Good riddance, even though 15 or so years late.

    • A.K.A. Fred says:

      Sadly, I think you are correct here. Manipulation of all spheres of government by majority party to improve their own lot. It just so happens that their recently determined ultimate objective coincided with the remedy that the opposition parties have been pushing for for so many years. Don’t be fooled into thinking the ANC has developed any moral fibre.

    • Dav Row says:

      100% Agreed. It serves the ANC to NOW impeach Hlophe. He always was and is aligned with Zuma – and now the ANC are no longer Zuma-lovers, support for anyone who does, has expired.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Hmmm the DA and ANC working together and joint decision making is interesting to see. Watch this space …..

  • Deon Botha-Richards says:

    Good riddance. Both impugned the dignity of the judiciary.

  • Iam Fedup says:

    The ANC MPs only voted like this because there’s an election coming. They’ve had years to take action, and done precisely nothing.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Good riddance. I’m assuming he’ll be hit with all the legal costs now as well?

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    So, will Hleazy Hlope end up on the EFF benches or throw in his lot with MK?

  • Interested Observer says:

    Justice served!

  • Jehan Bektir says:

    John Sloppy, Motata and Mkhwebane: three rejects who will be welcomed to join the scrapyard of the EFF.

  • John L says:

    Is this the same majority that who supported JZ during all the votes of no confidence in him?
    The same majority who protected CR and his mattress bank?
    A very shallow victory in my books.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    The fat man has realised it’s over, he has sung his last song.

  • Mike Meyer says:

    Dont forget. This saga started when Hlope tried to influence judges to support Zuma. Now that Zuma and his MK gang of thieves threaten the cANCer any supporter of Zuma is persona non grata. Not that Hlope doesn’t deserve to be impeached, he does but this would not have happened a few months ago.

  • Greeff Kotzé says:

    305 yeas + 27 nays = 332 votes.
    4 MPs are escorted out.
    296 yeas + 1 nay + 13 abstentions = 310 votes.
    What happened to the other 18 MPs? Did it get too late in the day for their taste?

    Suggest that we start paying these MPs (all 399 of them) per hour. They can clock in and clock out for record-keeping purposes. And if they forget to clock out, they can be docked the whole day’s pay. Have a taste of what ordinary South Africans experience. I think the vast majority of citizens would approve.

    • Random Comment says:

      Brings to mind the matter of the famous ANC MP, one Winnie Mandela, who attended Parliament so irregularly that the then chairperson of the joint standing committee on defence, Thandi Modise, said about her:

      “I didn’t know she was a member of my committee…”

  • theresa burdett says:

    Please use your brain and not your feelings when voting. Look at who will run your municipality properly using the funds for the communities and not enrich themselves. The ANC/EFF have not been performing. Look at who will perform and who has qualities of experience, honesty, caring. If you don’t vote for people like this the situation will continue to deteriorate. Is that really what you want?

  • theresa burdett says:

    Finally. This has been dragging on for years. SA must be careful who it appoints as judges. Judge Motata is another example. It takes forever to get them out of office if they are proven unsuitable.

  • Les Thorpe says:

    I’ve no doubt that, knowing S.A.’s legal system (specially designed to afford perps multiple opportunities to wiggle out of convictions and reward lawyers at every turn), Hlophe’s legal team will come up with some “loophole”, real, imagined or contrived, to lodge an “appeal”. A “rescission order” comes to mind for a start. No doubt, despite the impeachment decision, this matter will go on and on and on.

  • Peter Crawford says:

    Great news for the rule of law

  • eish Effedup says:

    Whats even more shocking is that there were still 27 MP’s who thought that he was a wonderful judge.

  • Peter Merrington says:

    It’s taken years but it’s come to pass. May this be a warning to all self-serving civil servants. I don’t like schadenfreude but I do like authentic justice.

  • Ajay San says:

    EFF will now become the home for the impeached.

  • Ajay San says:

    Eff is now the home of the impeached.

  • jason du toit says:

    from 332 votes to 310 votes “later” in the day. plenty of MPs working only half-days?

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