Speech on the recommendation for the removal from office of Judge President M J Hlophe in terms of section 177(1) of Constitution, 1996
Speech by ACDP MP, Steve Swart

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

ACDP supports impeachment of Judge President MJ Hlophe

Feb 21, 2024

Chairperson

The ACDP wishes to agree with the Chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee, the Hon Magwanishe, when he said, “to whom much is given, much is required,” and the SCA has already found that “a Judge is the pillar of our entire justice system and of the rights and freedoms that that system is designed to provide and protect.”

And so, we need to be very sober-minded as we consider the implications of today’s impeachment. We are not only impeaching for the first time a Judge, but a Judge President of the High Court. But that being said, no-one is above the law — not a Judge, nor a Judge President. 

And we clearly need to strengthen the mechanisms. It can’t be correct that it takes so long for a matter like this to be finalised with a lot of litigation involved. And yes, everyone is entitled to approach the courts for reviews, but it has taken a number of years to reach the conclusion that the Judicial Services Commission found on the merits having considered the Judiciary Conduct Tribunal, and the decision that Judge President Hlophe is guilty of gross misconduct as envisaged in section 177 of the Constitution.

Now, it is very important to bear in mind that what we are dealing with today is as the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court have set out: that there are different roles assigned to the Judicial Services Commission and the National Assembly. They are not overlapping. Neither the National Assembly or the Judicial Services Commission are subordinate to one another. The Judicial Services Commission is vested with the power to make a decision based on the norms of judicial ethics; in other words, the merits of the case. The National Assembly looks at the matter and takes a political decision.

We are not here to consider the merits of the matter — this is a political decision. Our role is confined to voting on whether to call upon the President to remove the Judge President from office.

The committee fully considered the documentation before it, including written submissions from Judge President Hlophe, applied its mind through deliberations, and by majority, noted the arguments placed before it and found no extenuating circumstances that would support a decision on its part not to recommend that the National Assembly be resolved to call for the removal of Judge President Hlophe from office. 

The ACDP supports this report and impeachment of Judge President Hlophe. It is anything but a concoction of deep racism in the legal profession.

I thank you

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