Quote of the week

Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation.  This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.

KHAMPEPE J and THERON J
Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank (CCT107/18) [2019] ZACC 29 (22 July 2019)
2 February 2007

R500 000 small change for Hlophe?

In April last year Judge President John Hlophe acknowledged that he had received out-of-pocket expenses from the Oasis group, “which were not excessive and has always been open and transparent”. He also said that he had permission from the Minister of Justice Dullah Omar to do the work.

Now it emerge in court papers that he had received nearly R500 000 from the Oasis group, starting in December 2002. Omar was Minister of Justice until the middle of 1999. Hlophe on several occasions declined to grant permission to Oasis to sue Judge Desai but after payments of almost R500 000, he suddely gave the permission.

Two blidingly obvious conclusions can be drawn form this:

  • Judge Hlophe lied in his innitial statement when he said that Oasis was only paying him for out of pocket expenses – it is surely not possible to incur out of pocket expenses of R500 000 in three years? So the Judge President has been caught in a lie. He might have changed his story before the JSC, but the innitial statement was clearly untrue.
  • It is difficult to see how Dullah Omar could have given permission for this because he was not the Minister anymore in 2002 – unless Hlophe started doing work for Oasis in 1999 or ealier but only started receiving payments when Oasis wanted to sue Judge Siras Desai. So, either he lied about getting permission or he must admit that he only started receiving money from Oasis when they wanted a favour from him.

From this it is difficult not to conclude that Judge Hlophe’s action were both dishonest and corrupt. Maybe he has a good excuse, but judges must not only be beyond reproach but must make sure their behaviour does not even hint at impropriety. It is a scandal that he is still on the bench. He should be impeached.

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