ANC, DA lead the National Assembly to claim Hlophe’s scalp

ANC MP Gratitude Magwanishe dug into his knowledge of Latin on Wednesday to justify why the liberation movement was in support of the impeachment of Western Cape Judge President Mandlakayise John Hlophe.

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” quoted Magwanishe, adding that the central question before the ANC-dominated National Assembly was about holding those who wield power accountable. This was ahead of the vote on the recommendation to impeach Hlophe.

Long-winded sentence

In announcing that the justice and correctional services adopted the recommendation to remove Hlophe from office, Magwanishe opted for a long-winded sentence that summed up years of the investigation into Hlophe by the judicial services commission.

“Having considered the letter from the acting deputy chief justice of the Republic of South Africa and acting chairperson of the Judicial Services Commission, Justice SSV Khampepe, on the Judicial Services Commission’s decision relating to a complaint brought by justices of the Constitutional Court against judge president MJ Hlophe, the majority and minority decision of the commission as well as the report of the Judicial Conduct Tribunal … recommends that the National Assembly resolve to call for the removal of judge Mandlakayise John Hlophe from office.”

DA went straight to the point

In contrast, the DA’s advocate, Glynnis Breytenbach, was more direct. Breytenbach placed it on record that the DA has been the driving force behind Hlophe’s impeachment since 2008.

She said Hlophe was brilliant when Mandela appointed him to the bench but was “tripped by integrity”.

“He has been found to have improperly attempted to influence constitutional court justices in matters involving the corruption charges against then-President Jacob Zuma.”

EFF cries racism

The EFF’s advocate, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, said: “Today this house is required to endorse what is essentially a culmination of a concoction of deep-rooted racism in the judiciary, the political vindictiveness of the ruling elite, and the failure of the post-1994 establishment to create conditions for black [people] to prosper in the legal profession.

“Hlophe is a distinguished judge and exceptional legal scholar. But he is about to be the first victim of a toxic and unforgiving culture. The culture of impaling black people who dare stand against the dominant liberal and racist discourse in the country. A culture which is more pronounced in the Western Cape.

“His only sin is that he simply discussed the law with his colleagues.”

IFP, UDM support impeachment

But the IFP’s Narend Singh disagreed: “Facts must speak for themselves irrespective of race, colour, creed, or religion when considering any matter.

“In this case, after having read the report and gone through the facts, there is no doubt that the conjecture that we just heard from the previous speaker cannot trump the facts,” Singh said in support of the impeachment.

Like Singh, the ACDP’s Steve Swart said Hlophe’s impeachment was “anything but a concoction of deep racism in the legal profession”.

PAC, Al Jama-Ah objected

The UDM’s Nqaba Kwankwa supported the recommendation, but the PAC and Al Jama-Ah objected.

“Impeachment must be a matter of last resort,” said Al Jama-Ah’s Ganief Hendricks. He added that the sixth Parliament was a people’s Parliament embracing African values and not Western prescript.

After the debate, the EFF called for a division for members to vote on the recommendation. A total of 305 MPs voted in favour, and 27 voted against.

The National Assembly’s recommendation would next be taken to President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign off Hlophe’s fate.

Judge Nkola Motata

On Wednesday, Parliament was also due to vote on the fate of Judge Nkola Motata. He had a drinking and driving incident that saw him crash into a residential wall.
Motata was also likely to be impeached, given that both the DA and the ANC supported the recommendation.

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