Will Judge Hlophe join the EFF?

Judge President John Hlophe. | Ayanda Ndamane Independent Newspapers

Judge President John Hlophe. | Ayanda Ndamane Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 28, 2024


While it remains to be seen what card former Western Cape judge president John Hlophe will play next after his impeachment, the EFF seems ready to welcome him to its trenches.

The EFF has been at pains to defend Hlophe before his impeachment process and is in defence mode after he was impeached.

Last week, Parliament voted for Hlophe’s removal from the Bench, by 305 to 27. Most of the votes in favour of Hlophe came from the EFF.

His impeachment came after he tried to interdict the process of impeachment, however, his efforts in the Western Cape High Court failed.

Hlophe was finally impeached after he tried, in vain, to delay it for 15 years.

Independent Media previously reported that in 2008, when he was the sitting judge president, he was accused of attempting to influence the Constitutional Court’s decision on search and seizure raids carried out by the Scorpions on properties of former president Jacob Zuma and French arms manufacturing giant Thint.

The judges he allegedly tried to influence to rule in favour of Zuma and Thint are Constitutional Court justices Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde.

But, in 2021, the Judicial Services Commission found Hlophe guilty of gross misconduct. At the time, the spokesperson for the JSC, advocate Dali Mpofu, said that in line with the provisions of the Constitution, the matter of the impeachment would be referred to the National Assembly for a decision.

In December 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa wielded the axe on Hlophe, putting him on suspension.

After he was impeached on Wednesday, EFF leader Julius Malema offered Hlophe sanctuary, saying Hlophe would “never go to bed hungry”.

Malema wrote on social media: “Don't be scared my brother, history will absolve you. We should meet soon and plot the way forward but my immediate proposal is that you form something like Freedom Under Law or the Helen Suzman Foundation and you continue to mark these racists.

“We can assure you that you will never go to bed hungry and this is inspired by the battle cry ‘An Injury To One Is An Injury to All’. We love you JP Hlophe, freedom is coming on 29 May 2024,” Malema wrote.

EFF treasurer-general Omphile Maotwe slammed ANC MPs who voted against Hlophe, saying the ANC were hypocrites and should be removed from power.

“Hlophe, we shall smile again. The sun will rise again. We will defeat hypocrites. The ANC must be removed from power.”

In a previous television interview, Hlophe said had been perceived to be corrupt and his suspension was politically motivated.

“That’s what detractors wanted … and one of those detractors is retired Judge (Johann) Kriegler. He is very vociferous with anything to do with Hlophe. He is always there; he is one of the detractors.

“It is a fact that after I was cleared by the Judicial Service Commission, he wasn’t happy and the retired chief justice Mogoeng (Mogoeng) was on record as having said that Justice Kriegler keeps phoning him about the Hlophe matter trying to put pressure on him.

“The other detractors were politicians. I have been called by the DA’s Helen Zille. She has openly called me an ANC deploy. I’m a sitting judge. What an insult! So there was political; interference but also Kriegler has always been vociferous and I think it’s a fact that his organisation FUL (Freedom Under Law) was formed just to chase Hlophe,” he said.

Professor of Public Administration at the North West University, Dr John Molepo, believes that it’s likely that Hlophe accepts a political home. However, he might raise eyebrows if he does because of his previous stature as a judge.

“Hlophe, wherever he is right now, must be frustrated for being removed from the bench and doing what he used to do, without a salary.

“So if he is being recruited. Any man would want to take the opportunity if it arises so that he can look out for his future and his family... but also, the issue of judges joining politics might raise questions that he might have been to politically inclined as a judge.

“So, a former judge would rather a pen a foundation that would advocate for the rights of people in the country,” Molepo said.

The Star