Friday, August 14, 2009

Would you shake this man's hand?

Judge now accused of ‘racism’

WESTERN Cape Judge President John Hlophe is again embroiled in controversy — and it could cost him a seat in the Constitutional Court.

Legal experts believe “racist” remarks, attributed to him by a weekly newspaper, diminish his stature in his current position and threaten his chances of being appointed to the highest court in the land.

The Judicial Service Commission is poised to interview Hlophe and other candidates for Constitutional Court posts that become vacant in October.

Hlophe recently lost the race to succeed Judge Pius Langa as the country’s chief justice when President Jacob Zuma announced last week that he had nominated Constitutional Court veteran Judge Sandile Ngcobo for the post.

However, he still seemed destined to be appointed as one of the new Constitutional Court judges.

But it now appears that the “racist” comments, attributed to him by the Mail & Guardian last week will take centre stage at the JSC hearings.

Civil rights group AfriForum yesterday laid a complaint with the JSC over Hlophe’s alleged remark that he was “not going to shake a white man’s hand”.

Hlophe has denied making the comment and his backers say the timing of the newspaper report is a deliberate attempt to scupper his chances of being appointed to the Constitutional Court.

The Mail & Guardian reported that Hlophe said, “I am not going to shake a white man’s hand”, in reference to Langa, at a restaurant in Cape Town on August 5.

This is the latest in a series of complaints about Hlophe with which the JSC has had to deal.

A recent JSC sub-committee heard testimony from Hlophe regarding a complaint by Constitutional Court judges to the effect that he had attempted to interfere in a matter related to Zuma.

The sub-committee has yet to make a ruling on the complaint.

Hlophe has since written to Langa denying he made the remarks.

Unisa Professor Shadrack Gutto believes Hlophe is caught between a rock and a hard place — he must take legal action against the newspaper if he is to be believed, or live with the allegation that he made a racist remark hanging over his head.

Gutto said: “He has written to explain, but not to apologise. This is exactly why he has become so controversial. Should he [Hlophe] fail to take legal action, this raises serious concern that he did, in fact, make these statements.”

He added that if Hlophe did make the remarks attributed to him, it diminished his prospects for continuing in his position as Judge President of the Cape and of serving in the Constitutional Court.

“These interviews are imminent and he will be questioned over these alleged remarks. This makes the prospect of him being considered very limited,” Gutto said.

He added that Hlophe’s alleged comments fly in the face of the Constitution.

“The Constitution goes against racism and racial discrimination and the statements, prima facie, are an expression of both racism and discrimination. It shows his mind and way of thinking.”

Constitutional Court expert Pierre de Vos said: “If the comments were made, it will ruin his chances of being elevated to the Constitutional Court as it’s clearly misconduct.”

But Percy Gumbi, of the Justice For Hlophe Alliance, labelled the report “irresponsible journalism” and said Hlophe had been misquoted.

Gumbi said: “Hlophe will be taking legal action, this is defamation. The media has a vendetta against him and this is a witch hunt.

“The interviews are coming up, and this article was done on purpose to destroy his chances of being appointed to the Constitutional Court.”

JSC members IFP chief whip Koos van der Merwe and ID leader Patricia de Lille say they will raise the matter during the JSC hearings.

Van der Merwe said: “Is it true? If so, then one can say he is using the white man as the most [objectionable] on Earth and that is counter [to our] Constitution.

“As a member of the JSC, I will give him an opportunity to respond to these allegations. And if it is true that he did say the above, then he has a big hurdle to jump on his way to getting to the top, where he wants to be.”

De Lille said: “If he is found to have said those things and found guilty in a disciplinary hearing, this would be a bad reflection on him and the judiciary.

“It would be for the JSC to determine the kind of action to take if the matter does go for a hearing.”

2 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Dregs like Hlope will usually go very far in South Africa of today.

Tia Mysoa said...

Please feel free to distribute my latest article concerning the 1854 Makapaanspoort Murders. It was (and still is) one of the most significant historical events in South Africa, and serves as a perfect example of how the savages of Africa have not changed over time. It’s time that the White Race starts realizing that we have a Heritage to be proud of. We are systematically being suffocated and bullied on all levels of our intellect. It has to stop!