CAPE Judge President John Hlophe has written to Chief Justice Pius
Langa and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and intends laying a
complaint with the press ombudsman over comments he was reported to
have made in an interview with the Mail & Guardian, write Angela Quintal and Gaye Davis in The Star.

The newspaper reported on Friday that Judge Hlophe had said he'd refused to shake Justice Langa's hand, saying: "I am not going to shake a white man's hand" – a comment which had legal circles abuzz.

The IFP last night released a translation of a letter Judge Hlophe wrote in isiZulu to Buthelezi, in which he accuses the reporter, Sello S Alcock, of "a blatant lie".

Alcock had quoted Judge Hlophe as saying: "I may get killed – I am not bullet-proof," citing Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who "had been sent into lengthy exile for his own safety after his uncle, Buthelezi, displayed regal ambitions".

Judge Hlophe says in the letter: "I am still consulting my lawyers about this matter as it dazed my head with shock, as it makes me a careless Zulu. I apologise very sincerely for the wrong impression that may have been created because of this newspaper report."

Judge Hlophe's lawyer, Barnabas Xulu, confirmed that a complaint would be laid with the press ombudsman and that a copy would be sent to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which has begun its own inquiries.

Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes said last night his paper stood by the story. Judge Hlophe hadn't complained to him directly as editor, Dawes said, but had put "huge pressure" on Alcock to retract it, which he was refusing to do.

Dawes said the JSC had approached Alcock to ask him to confirm, in writing, that Judge Hlophe had made the comments. This had been done.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Star's website (Star subscribers only.)