WESTERN Cape Judge President John Hlophe is opposing a court bid by the
media to force the Judicial Service Commission to open its preliminary
investigation into his alleged misconduct to the public, his lawyer
said, according to a report in The Times.

Advocate Barnabas Xulu said that to open the commission’s hearings to the public would violate his client’s rights.

“You don’t publicly investigate when you are dealing with a judge,” he said.

The commission is also opposing the application by Avusa, The Times’ holding company, the Independent Group, the Mail & Guardian and the Freedom of Expression Institute, all of which want to force the commission to push ahead with a formal, public inquiry into the judge’s actions.

The newspaper houses have asked the South Gauteng High Court, in Johannesburg, to set aside the commission’s decision to hold a preliminary investigation before deciding whether to proceed with a full inquiry into allegations that Hlophe tried to sway Constitutional Court judgments relating to Jacob Zuma before he became president.

They filed an urgent application on Friday, two days after the Judicial Service Commission set up a three-man sub-committee to hold closed-door hearings into the Hlophe case. The sub-committee was asked to recommend to the commission by August 15 whether it should press ahead with a full investigation.

The newspapers argued that the commission did not have the power to dispense with a full investigation because it decided in July last year to convene a full, formal inquiry into the allegations.

Alternatively, the newspapers want the preliminary investigation to be open to the public.

The commission and Hlophe’s lawyers were given until late yesterday to file their responses to the media’s application, and the matter will be heard this afternoon.

The sub-committee is expected to begin its preliminary investigation today.

Click here to read the full report, posted on thetimes.co.za.