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Imminent Impeachment Process for Judges Hlophe and Motata Begins in South Africa's Parliament

Published September 22, 2023
9 months ago

South Africa's Parliament is stepping up its impeachment proceedings for Western Cape Judge President, John Hlophe, and retired Gauteng Judge, Nkola Motata. This milestone development was greenlit by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, solidifying a strategic framework for the elimination of the two judicial figures.

The recommendation for Motata and Hlophe's removal came from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), after both were found guilty of gross misconduct, albeit for separate issues. The mutually independent roles of the JSC and National Assembly in relation to Section 177 of the Constitution were highlighted throughout the impeachment.

This investigative process, as presented by Parliamentary legal advisor Dr. Barbara Loots, would involve six main stages. The first two stages include the official recognition of the gross misconduct findings and obtaining procedural briefings from a JSC official.

Further procedures grant Motata and Hlophe the opportunity to present their point of view to the National Assembly, although they cannot contest the findings of misconduct. This could, however, influence the final decision regarding impeachment. The committee will then adjourn to deliberate on recommending the judges' removal to the National Assembly.

Parliament's verdict, whether negative or positive, must be procedurally rational and lawful. The chairperson of the committee, Bulelani Magwanishe, assures the establishment of a structured framework, permitting a thorough and just exploration of these unprecedented cases, with no stone left unturned.

This trailblazing situation marks the first time a judge has been indicted since 1910 in South Africa. Magwanishe notes that this newly adopted method will form the standard impeachment procedure for any imminent judge petitions.

Looking forward, the committee seeks to ensure the proper channel was followed by the JSC prior to presenting a recommendation to the National Assembly and formally start the impeachment process of these judges in the coming months.

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