Monday, July 28, 2008

Taxpayers to foot huge Hlophe bill

If your blood pressure wasn’t already high, this should send you over the top. Yes, folks, listen up.

If you are a loyal bootlicking ANC member of the black elite and, in the event you get caught doing your nefarious activities, you are guaranteed that everything will be done by the party/State to get you off.

Getting rid of the Scorpions was the first part of the plan and the next was to engage the best legal minds in the country
with taxpayers’ money, not ANC money, not the accused’s personal money but YOUR money to get them off.

If you are not being hoisted by the Speaker of parleymunt and senior ANC NEC members into jail then treated like royalty in jail, the idea is to spare the trouble of even going that far. Such a waste of ti
me pretending to 'jail' them.

Yep, the idea is to use up whatever resources are needed, nothing is too much, maybe a little bribery - all done with your tax dollars. Eish, it is a good plan.

And so, the ANC
gubbermunt/ANC NEC (same thing) have decided that it will spare not one tax penny getting one of their own off the hook. Viva freedom and equality for all!

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As the country's top justices battle it out in the Judicial Service Commission and now the Johannesburg High Court, it is the taxpayers who will foot the multi-million rand bill for the array of lawyers and senior counsel retained by both sides.

With senior counsel likely to charge R20 000-R30 000 a day and their juniors up to two-thirds of that, the bill will be astronomical, although the damage to the judiciary's reputation remains incalculable.

"It is going to be a very expensive exercise," said Paul Hoffman, a former advocate at the Cape Bar, who now heads the Centre for Constitutional Rights. Judge John Hlophe's surprise application to the Johannesburg High Court this week for an order declaring that his rights had been violated by the nation's top justices, as well as for an urgent interdict against the JSC to stop hearing the complaint against him until his application was heard, will add more costs to the saga.

This in turn would hold up the JSC inquiry for an indefinite period, Hoffman said. "It is intolerable to drag out the matter. Every day they remain at loggerheads is another day to damage the reputation of the judiciary."

Moreover, the indirect costs included tying up "so many top people in the administration of justice" who ought to be doing the work they were paid to do, Hoffman said. Had the application not been lodged, the costs involved in the JSC inquiry alone would be considerable.

A venue, accommodation, flights, food and other transport also would have to be factored in.

Chief Justice Pius Langa had suggested the JSC should also sit on weekends to expedite things. On Friday, the justice ministry confirmed the state would pick up the tab for Judge Hlophe's legal costs, after permission was granted by Director-General Menzi Simelane.

It is also paying the legal costs of the Constitutional Court, which lodged the complaint, and the two justices alleged to have been lobbied by Judge Hlophe. This team comprises three senior counsel, including Reggie Tokota and Mbuyiseli Madlanga for Justice Bess Nkabinde and for then-acting Constitutional Court Judge Chris Jafta, as well as Gilbert Marcus for the court itself. They are briefed by the state attorney.

Judge Hlophe's team includes one silk, Dumisa Ntsebeza, and two junior counsel, advocates Vuyani Ngalwana and Thabani Masuku, who are briefed by Cape Town attorney Lister Nuku. A second senior counsel, Vincent Maleka, was eventually not retained because of other commitments.

Judge Langa, anxious the hearing should take place as soon as possible, believed he and his Constitutional Court colleagues should not be treated more equally than Judge Hlophe when it came to the state footing the bill.

"I need to point out that our attitude as well as that of counsel in this matter is that inequality of arms should be avoided if at all possible and that all counsel in the matter should work on the same basis," Judge Langa writes. Judge Langa indicated he would prefer the JSC to begin its oral inquiry from Monday to Friday, as this would be the most convenient for the Constitutional Court justices, but also proposed August 5 to 14.

August 15 to October 7 would be term time for the court and one of the court's witnesses would be overseas during this time.

# At least one constitutional expert is unimpressed by Judge Hlophe's 45-page founding affidavit. Writing in his blog "constitutionally speaking", Professor Pierre de Vos said on Friday: "If I was a judge on the Constitutional Court I would say a little prayer that Judge President John Hlophe does not fire his legal team.

"If Judge President Hlophe wrote the affidavit himself, I sure as hell hope I never have to appear in front of him because then he has only a tenuous grip on the law.

If the affidavit was prepared by his legal team I will make very sure I never engage the services of these honourable gentlemen - even to get me off the hook for a parking ticket. I would be rather aggrieved to pay them for this shoddy work."

One of Judge Hlophe's allies said on Friday night that what had enraged people like De Vos, was that the judge president had decided to fight back. Even his legal team was being attacked for representing him because everyone had decided he was guilty.

"Thanks to the Constitutional Court judges publicly lynching him, he is not even entitled to prove his innocence."

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