Judges Hlophe, Motata lose titles and benefits

todayFebruary 22, 2024 161

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Parliament has voted in favour of the impeachment of Western Cape Judge President, John Hlophe, and retired Judge, Nkola Motata.
Three hundred and five Members of Parliament voted for Hlophe’s removal while 296 supported Motata’s the motion against Motata.
The pair was found guilty of gross misconduct.
Hlophe’s matter dates back to 2008 when nine Constitutional Court justices lodged a complaint about him, claiming he had improperly attempted to influence two of their colleagues, Justices Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde, to rule in favour of former president, Jacob Zuma, in his corruption trial.
He has maintained his innocence the entire time, saying Parliament needs to conduct its own investigation into the matter and not rely on the findings of the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) report, which had confirmed the allegations levelled against him.
Judge Motata, who was convicted for drunk driving after he crashed his car in 2007, was on the other hand found to have submitted a dishonest defense in his criminal trial, knowingly. He also got under fire for the racist comments he made after his 2007 crash.
He has also denied any wrongdoing.
Once President Cyril Ramaphosa signs-off the decision and set a date for their formal removal, the judges will lose all their benefits, including a lifetime monthly salary, a car allowance and medical aid cover.
The ANC government has been receiving flak over the judges’ sacking.
However, the party’s secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, says it was the right thing to do.
“But it is painful but you must stand for what is right even if the majority doesn’t agree with you. That’s it,” he adds.
EFF’s Busisiwe Mkhwebane says Hlophe’s only sin was to discuss the law with his colleagues, while her party leader, Julius Malema, believes history will absolve Hlophe.
Taking on X, formerly known as Twitter, Malema vowed that the EFF will assure that Hlophe never goes to bed hungry.
“We should meet you soon and plot the way forward but my immediate proposal is that you form something like Freedom Under Law or the Hellen Suzman Foundation and you continue to mark these racists.”

DA’s justice minister, Glynnis Breytenbach, says Hlophe’s impeachment has affirmed the party’s position that he lacks integrity to be a judge.
She says it further sends a strong message that no one is above the law, regardless of their position or influence.
“While the DA welcomes the finality of this matter, we remain concerned that the process to remove Hlophe took over 15 years after the 2008 misconduct complaint was lodged. The process was protracted and complex, with extensive investigations, hearings, and deliberations by the JSC,” Breytenbach adds.
A coalition that monitors the judiciary, Judges Matter, says the duo’s impeachment was a vote for accountability as judicial independence is not a limitless entitlement.
“One of the key constitutional safeguards of judicial independence is individual judges’ strong security of tenure, underpinned by protection from arbitrary removal from office.”
Political analyst, Levy Ndou, on the other hand says the removal of the two judges is a lesson that members of the judiciary should refrain from entertaining any political influences.
“The remaining judges know what to do, they should always act in an impartial manner. They should always act independently, they should ensure that they do their work by the book and not allow themselves to be influenced.”
Ordinary South Africans are also weighing in on the historic vote on social media platforms.

Written by: Lindiwe Mpanza

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