Quote of the week

An ‘important purpose of section 34 [of the Constitution] is to guarantee the protection of the judicial process to persons who have disputes that can be resolved by law’ and that the right of access to court is ‘foundational to the stability of an orderly society. It ensures the peaceful, regulated and institutionalised mechanisms to resolve disputes, without resorting to self-help. The right of access to court is a bulwark against vigilantism, and the chaos and anarchy which it causes. Construed in this context of the rule of law and the principle against self-help in particular, access to court is indeed of cardinal importance’.The right guaranteed s34 would be rendered meaningless if court orders could be ignored with impunity:the underlying purposes of the right — and particularly that of avoidance of self-help — would be undermined if litigants could decide which orders they wished to obey and which they wished to ignore.

Plasket AJ
Victoria Park Ratepayers' Association v Greyvenouw CC and others (511/03) [2003] ZAECHC 19 (11 April 2003)
28 August 2009

Hlophe a free man?

This story has just been posted on the web by Independent Newspapers. 

Cape Judge President John Hlophe no longer faces the threat of impeachment.

Hours before the Judicial Service Commission is expected to announce its decision on the much-publicised dispute between Hlophe and the Constitutional Court, The Star has learnt that the JSC’s complaints committee  has decided not to proceed with the gross misconduct complaint against Hlophe.

They have found that there is no prima facie case against Hlophe. The Judge President is expected to return to work on Monday, days before he will again face the JSC – this time as a nominee for a Constitutional Court position.

It is understood that the JSC complaints committee was closely split on its decision about the Hlophe matter, which is expected to be conveyed to Hlophe and the Constitutional Court at noon. It remains unclear whether Hlophe or the Concourt will be reprimanded over the conduct that led to the dispute.

Delays in the announcement of the decision, which was made nearly two weeks ago, are believed to have been the result of the minority’s insistence that its reasons for wanting the complaint against Hlophe to continue should be publicised.

The Constitutional Court had accused Hlophe of attempting to lobby two of its judges for pro-President Jacob Zuma rulings. He in turn accused the Concourt of violating his constitutional rights by publicising their complaint against him.

The complaints resulted in what Hlophe’s legal team referred to as a “”constitutional crisis”, although one of the Supreme Court of Appeal judges who sat on a Hlophe-related case referred to the debacle as no more than a “constitutional curiousity”.

Hlophe’s lawyer Barnabas Xulu this morning told The Star that his client was still waiting to hear the result of the JSC’s preliminary inquiry into the Concourt complaint  against him, but stressed that the Concourt was also in the firing line over its conduct.

“People must not forget that there are two complaints here,” he said. It is understood that Hlophe’s complaint against the Concourt will also not be proceeding.

I will wait to comment until the official announcement.

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