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High court gives green light to John Hlophe impeachment vote at eleventh hour

High court gives green light to John Hlophe impeachment vote at eleventh hour
John Hlophe at a JSC hearing in Johannesburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Elizabeth Sejake)

The colloquialism about the fat lady singing is usually deployed when a situation appears to be nearing its conclusion, and in the case of John Hlophe, it was a Gauteng High Court judge, Sulet Potterill, who sang shortly after 9am.

The urgent application by Hlophe, the former Judge President of the Western Cape, and drunk-driving judge Nkola Motata to halt proceedings was struck from the roll at the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday by Potterill as a self-created emergency.

Hlophe previously headed the division which is why Potterill heard the matter filed by Hlophe and Motata last week.

Parliament said this week it was ready to proceed with the vote as current laws enabled this.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Parliament ready to vote on suspended Judge President John Hlophe’s impeachment

Potterill opined that Hlophe’s enrolling of the action the day before the National Assembly was due to vote “is exactly bringing an action upon the hour of reckoning”.

If Hlophe had wanted to avoid legislation, as he alleged, it was “conspicuously absent” that he sought an undertaking from Parliament not to proceed with the vote pending his Constitutional Court case, she added.

Time as long as rope

In November, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services adopted a report by the Judicial Service Commission recommending Hlophe’s removal, after which the disgraced judge had requested the apex court to declare the committee’s process unconstitutional.

It should be noted that Hlophe was not an ordinary litigant and had heard “urgent matters and knows the practices and laws”, said Potterill.

His application was “manifestly unreasonable and self-created”, she added.

The decision by Potterill was made just hours before the National Assembly was due to vote on Hlophe and Motata’s impeachment at 4pm today (Wednesday) after Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s Budget speech.

The ANC and DA will be supporting both judges’ removal while the EFF does not. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Michael Thomlinson says:

    No surprise the EFF voted against the impeachment of these 2 odius officials. It looks like they will lose their buddies keeping them out of court and jail.

  • Wayne Holt says:

    Pity the high court with another deployed cadre judge ruled against the DA’s case on the constitutionality of cadre deployment. Not to worry Zondo has already stated as much so my learned biased judge your ruling will be overturned

  • Gordon Holtmann says:

    While Former Justice Hlophe is by all accounts an odious character and will not be missed in his former division it is none the less a sad day for the South African legal profession that two senior Judges’ conduct is so poor as to warrant impeachment. Judge Motata’s I think is slightly different. He seemed lost in a world of his own imagining that enabled him to be drunk, racist and a Judge all at the same time. Hlophe on the other hand despite being an astute person behaved in a brutish manner reminiscent of a different time. The real silver lining is that the JSC and Parliament have after long delays recognised their duties and carried them out. Hopefully more of that for the future. The EFF is always predictable. Julius can be counted on to support the wrong side in anything.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    It’s only over when the fat man sings!

  • Peter Merrington says:

    Mills of God.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Happy that it’s finally happened. Deeply disappointed that it’s taken quite so long. Imagine the opportunity cost to the legal system of having miscreants like these in the positions they occupy.

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