Sunday, June 22, 2008

More s**t for Hlophe as he faces ‘spies’ scandal

How the mighty and the cocky fall when they think they are at their most invulnerable. Ask that other arsehole Mbeki.

Hlophe is getting slammed from all sides and deservedly so. He is a crooked judge and we need people like him like we need a second arsehole.

This allegation is more serious than the one being made by the Con Court judges because it means a conspiracy is underway between Hlophe, Zuma and others sympathetic to Zuma who have been spying on the Concourt Judges.

This is Mugabe style politics and means our democracy will be at an end if Hlophe (and Zuma) succeed in getting away this.

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Beleagured Cape Judge President John Hlophe is facing a dramatic new allegation that he obtained information on a Constitutional Court judge’s work from the country’s intelligence agency.

The new twist to the judicial crisis may result in Hlophe being hauled before Parliament’s joint intelligence committee.

The claim that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) may have been spying on Concourt judges is contained in an explosive 21-page affidavit signed on Tuesday by Chief Justice Pius Langa – and annotated by all the Concourt judges.

The spying inference came in Hlophe’s alleged comment to one of the judges that he had links to national intelligence – after the judge wondered how he knew what she was working on.

The affidavit to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which made it public, comes after claims that Hlophe tried to persuade two judges to influence the rest of the court to act in favour of ANC president Jacob Zuma and French arms company Thint in a number of cases.

In the submission, Langa details a series of meetings Hlophe is alleged to have had with Judge Bess Nkabinde and Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Chris Jafta in March and April respectively in their chambers.

Both judges claim that Hlophe, without invitation, initiated conversations around the Zuma/ Thint court cases, claiming “he had a mandate” to engage in such discussions with them.

In their meeting, Hlophe is alleged to have told Jafta, a friend of many years, that “you are our last hope” (Sesithembelea kinina).

Zuma and Thint had applied to Concourt to have searches connected to fraud and corruption charges against them declared illegal. In March, the two judges were part of a bench which heard argument in the matter.

The judges claimed Hlophe told them the cases were important for Zuma’s future and that Zuma was being persecuted as he (Hlophe) was. “Hlophe added that there was no real case against Mr Zuma and that it was therefore important to hold in his favour,” Langa stated

Nkabinde, who had been writing post-hearing notes on the aspect of privileges, had wondered how Hlophe knew what she was working on.

Their complaint includes further alarming allegations that Hlophe:

  • Tried to use Nkabinde’s clan affiliation to influence her deliberations in Zuma’s favour;
  • Claimed he was politically well connected and had firm ties to members of the “national intelligence”; and
  • Claimed to have “outgrown” the Cape High Court and intended to seek office in the Constitutional Court.
Jafta further claimed that Hlophe invited him to avail himself for appointment to the Concourt as some people were going to lose their jobs after next year’s general elections.

Both Nkabinde and Jafta said they rejected Hlophe’s approach.

Langa said Hlophe’s improper attempt to influence the pending judgment necessitated them issuing a media statement as the very independence of the court – the highest in the land – had been threatened by Hlophe’s actions.

He further said all the judges had been “shocked and distressed” by the reports as none of them had ever experienced “such a serious affront to the integrity of the judicial process” and that they unanimously viewed it in the “gravest possible light”.

“An attempt to influence judges of the highest court to determine a case in a particular manner is a threat to the institution of judiciary, one of the pillars of our constitutional democracy,” said Justice Langa.

DA parliamentary Chief Whip Ian Davidson said they would seek a meeting with National Intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils over the suggestion that the NIA was spying on members of the judiciary.

“If these allegations are true, their implications for our democracy are profoundly serious,” said Davidson.

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