Disgraced former judge, and now MK Party parliamentary leader John Hlophe’s election by the National Assembly as a delegate to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which plays a key role in judicial appointments, is to be challenged in court by the NGO, Freedom Under Law (FUL).

The JSC was the body that made a finding of gross misconduct against Hlophe that led to his removal from the Bench. He was the first judge to be removed in democratic South Africa.

FUL said it would challenge Hlophe’s election on the grounds of rationality and the rule of law.

According to News24, FUL executive officer Judith February said: “To have a situation where an individual who was found to have committed gross misconduct and was removed from judicial office is now in a position to decide on the suitability of other candidates for judicial appointment is wholly inappropriate, irrational, and in our view, susceptible to legal challenge.”

Hlophe was among delegates elected to the JSC by the National Assembly on Tuesday. This was opposed by the DA, FF Plus and ACDP.

Judges Matter is among other organisations to have criticised the election of Hlophe, saying the decision was “contrary to the spirit, purport and objects of the Constitution”.

News24 quotes Judges Matter researcher Mbekezeli Benjamin as saying: “It is plainly irrational in relation to the injunction by Section 165[4] of the Constitution, which requires that Parliament takes measures to protect the independence and dignity of the courts.

“It is a cruel irony that aspirant judicial officers will be assessed on their ethics, integrity and fitness for judicial office by commissioners who themselves have been found guilty of misconduct.”

Benjamin said: “Judges Matter reiterates our call for a written code of conduct for all commissioners, with a mechanism to recall those commissioners who do not uphold the terms of the code.”

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