John Hlophe. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
John Hlophe. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

Freedom Under Law has called for Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe to be suspended pending the conclusion of the proceedings for his removal from office.

The organisation made this comment on Monday after Hlophe’s decision on Friday when he acquitted ANC MP Bongani Bongo on a charge of corruption.

Hlophe found Bongo not guilty of allegedly attempting to bribe Eskom inquiry evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara.

Hlophe dismissed the case after lawyers for Bongo filed a section 174 application on the basis there was no evidence on which a court would reasonably return a finding of guilty.

Freedom Under Law said it was not concerned with the political consequences of Hlophe’s dismissal of the corruption case against Bongo.

“Our concern is its implications for the administration of justice,” said the organisation’s chairperson, Judge Johann Kriegler.

It said this particular decision was wrong. Kriegler accused Hlope of “contrived reasoning”.

Freedom Under Law said since Hlophe allegedly tried to pervert the course of justice against former president Jacob Zuma 13 years ago, it had maintained Hlophe was unfit to be a judge.

The organisation was referring to the complaint made in 2008 by all the then judges of the Constitutional Court to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that Hlophe had sought to influence the outcome of cases pending before that court and connected to the corruption prosecution of Zuma, who was president of the ANC.

That complaint was dealt with by the Judicial Conduct Tribunal, which reserved judgment.

After Hlophe’s decision on Friday, the National Prosecuting Authority said it would study the judgment before considering its options.

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