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The symbol of the Constitutional Court of SA, our highest house of justice, is of a tree and of people sheltering beneath its branches. It has many evocations: of settling and dispensing justice under a tree as was done in traditional African societies; of its canopy being sufficiently wide and fulsome to offer protection to all. But there is another idea of justice contained in this image: of justice being an integrated system — strong sheltering branches being supported by other healthy limbs and, in turn, a robust, deeply rooted trunk.

The recent decision of chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, in his capacity as chair of the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC), to put to the JCC that it recommend the establishment of a tribunal to investigate three very serious allegations against Western Cape judge president John Hlophe would seem to be an indication of that integrated system at work...

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