Hlophe Hearing Open to Public – Idasa Welcomes Ruling

See the video commentary here – http://www.zoopy.com/q/re3

Idasa has long argued that the Hlophe hearings should be held in the gaze of the public.  Last year, Idasa made a comprehensive submission to the JSC in this regard. Although the JSC on Saturday decided to hold the proceedings in private in the belief that this would protect the dignity of the judiciary (and the key judges involved), the High Court overturned this ruling late  yesterday. This is most welcome. While respect for the integrity of the courts and administration of justice are of paramount importance, the matter  is already in the public domain and secrecy at this stage would only result in public misgivings about the procedure and the outcome.

Given that this matter (the complaint of interference by Judge Hlophe in the work of the Constitutional Court in a case involving Jacob Zuma) surfaced last year May, it is a relief to see it finally being dealt with by the JSC. There have been a number of procedural hiccups along the way, including today’s announcement of delay due to illness.

In a sound and thoughtful judgment yesterday, the  Supreme Court of Appeal held  that the judges of the Constitutional Court had not violated the right of dignity (and various other rights) of Judge Hlophe when they went public with the initial complaint. Nor did they act unlawfully by not allowing him to make representations prior to lodging the complaint to the JSC. On the contrary, the SCA stated that allowing Judge Hlophe to make such representations at this stage could very well have undermined the ensuing complaint processes of the JSC.

Also see an article written by Idasa last year, when this issue first came up here.

Also see this article which discusses the following question – How will the upcoming election in South Africa affect the composition of the JSC? This brief provides information on the composition and terms of office of JSC members.

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