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.
The Justice for Hlophe Alliance accepts the shortlist of candidates as published by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) yesterday. Although we are disappointed that Western Cape Judge President Hlophe (Hlophe JP) didn’t make it but we nonetheless respect this decision. We were engaged in a principled fight and we realise that “in life you win some and at times you lose some”. We wish to take this opportunity to clarify some issues emanating from this past Sunday’s interview of Hlophe JP at Kliptown in Soweto.
a) At the outset we would like to clarify the nature of the Justice for Hlophe Alliance (JFHA), in that it is a special purpose vehicle which is part of the Justice for All Forum, an umbrella body which is an advocate for change.
b) The JFHA has its own constitution which spells out its own guiding principles and in its founding statement, the purpose of its existence is captured meticulously so as not to create any ambiguity about the rationale for its formation. For the record, the organisation was founded by a group of lawyers, advocates and concerned South Africans in order to foster the independence of the judiciary, fight for transformation of the bench and protect judges, particularly Black judges who are subject to ridicule and are victims of all sorts of racist innuendo about their (unfounded) incompetence.
c) It is thus incorrect of anyone to suggest or insinuate that the JFHA was working in tandem with Hlophe JP to defend him. It is however true that there has never been a meeting between the Justice for Hlophe Alliance and Hlophe JP (be it) to discuss our resolve to defend him or any other matter/s relating to the JSC. It is regrettable that Hlophe JP was put under pressure to denounce an independent organisation (one that he is not part of) notwithstanding the fact that it was named after him.
d) It is equally incorrect to create an impression that Mr. Percy Gumbi is a renegade who was speaking or acting in his personal capacity because he was not. He was instead mandated by the JFHA to speak on its behalf and it follows therefore that he can’t be singled out or made a villain as though he was articulating his own views. As the face of our organisation, we took a decision that he must sign the nomination form in line with our previous resolution. In terms of the advertisement, any member of the public could nominate any judge for consideration. Importantly there didn’t need to be a meeting of minds between the nominator and the nominee nor any sharing of perspectives.
e) Whilst we understand that some of our statements may have caused discomfort to certain individuals, we nonetheless feel strongly about our views. We have previously gone on record to echo sentiments in respect of how we abide by and respect the constitution plus its organs. Whilst the JSC is an organ which is founded on our constitution, it follows that we respect it too and have confidence in its abilities (including the commissioners).
f) We are planning to secure a meeting with Hlophe JP in order to clarify our position in terms of why we made the kind of accusations that we did at the time. Accordingly we will explain to Hlophe JP that we will unfortunately not be able to retract any of our statements. We regret if any pain and/or embarrassment may have been caused as a result of such statements or the resultant misinterpretation of our intentions.
We are deeply concerned at the manner in which some of the JSC members conducted themselves during the interviews. In this regard these members sought to opportunistically reopen enquiries which had already been investigated and decisions taken. We will continue to support Hlophe JP’s candidacy should another vacancy arise, remain committed to his cause and continue to see him as a conduit to collectively ensure a fair and unbiased judiciary with his colleagues in the Western Cape.BACK TO TOP