SA’s judiciary has, in many respects, become one of our democracy’s most powerful defenders. Again and again the courts have intervened to protect ordinary citizens from irrational and indefensible decisions made by the state, blocked the abuse of power within private or public organisations and ensured that the rule of law was upheld. In a country scarred by a devastating history and struggling with inequality, it is very often the judiciary that restores public faith in the possibility that SA can become a strong and functional constitutional democracy. That’s why the unresolved allegations of misconduct that have surrounded Judge President John Hlophe for the past decade, and the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC’s) seeming inability to resolve them, are so deeply concerning. The Hlophe saga speaks to the increasingly unavoidable possibility that our judiciary — the heroes of this young democracy — have a blind spot: effective accountability. It has been more than 10 years since...

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