Western Cape High Court judge Salie-Hlophe to face inquiry after complaint lodged
9 March 2020
Western Cape High Court Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe is to face an inquiry after a senior colleague lodged a complaint against her and her husband, the judge president in that division, according to the secretariat of the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC).
The decision by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo means that Supreme Court of Appeal judge, Nambitha Dambuza, who is also a member of the JCC, will conduct the inquiry to determine the merits of the complaint which Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath lodged against them.
Zondo was satisfied that, in terms of Section 17(1) of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Act 9, in the event of a valid complaint being established, the appropriate remedial action against Salie-Hlophe would be one or more of the remedial actions listed in Section 17(8) of the JSC Act.
"That means it will be a lesser sanction than impeachment. Such remedial action includes an apology to the complainant, a reprimand, a written warning, or appropriate counselling."
The inquiry is required to be inquisitorial and there is no onus on anybody to prove or disprove any allegation.
News24 reported previously that in January, Goliath lodged the complaint with the JSC, alleging that Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe and Salie-Hlophe committed "gross misconduct" which compromised the proper functioning of the court.
In an affidavit, Goliath claimed Salie-Hlophe wielded enormous power, which included determining her own working days and hours, and that she had major clout when it came to the appointment of acting judges.
Goliath said she was appointed to her position in July 2016 but felt she occupied the deputy judge president position "only in name".
She acted as a Constitutional Court justice in 2018 and returned to the Western Cape division in April 2019.
Goliath said she found all her duties as deputy judge president were suspended, but that there was no indication that she was no longer required to perform them.
She claimed that in a later meeting, Hlophe gave her two reasons to explain why he had "withdrawn" her duties – that he didn't need a deputy, and that she had "interfered in his personal life" which he considered fatal to their relationship.
According to Goliath, this stemmed from an alleged incident at Hlophe's home in 2017 involving a third party, an unnamed female legal practitioner.
Salie-Hlophe has countered that in her seven years as a judge, she served under two deputies and that there were no complaints about the execution of her judicial functions, that she received preferential treatment, or that she was involved in the administration and management of the court.