Lindsay Dentlinger26 June 2024 | 14:49

Judges Matter frowns upon Hlophe's career transition from impeached judge to MP

After almost 30 years as a judge, John Hlophe was sworn in as an uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party member on Tuesday, just four months after he was impeached by Parliament for misconduct.

Judges Matter frowns upon Hlophe's career transition from impeached judge to MP

MK Party chief whip John Hlophe sworn in as an MP on 25 June 2024. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Judicial watchdog Judges Matter says it’s extraordinary that a former judge is now a member of Parliament (MP).

After almost 30 years as a judge, John Hlophe was sworn in as an uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party member on Tuesday, just four months after he was impeached by Parliament for misconduct.

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Research and advocacy officer Mbekezeli Benjamin said the constitutional drafters never contemplated such a situation.

Hlophe is the second MP after former Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to turn to politics after being impeached by Parliament.

While there’s no legal impediment to Hlophe serving as an MP, Benjamin said it’s unexpected that an impeached judge would make such a career move.

“It does raise some questions that people who have been found guilty of gross misconduct or gross incompetence, as the case may be, now coming back as members of Parliament. That says quite a lot about our Parliament.”

Political parties will soon nominate their candidates to serve as commissioners on the Judicial Service Commission, which interviews judges to serve on the bench.

It’s also the body that spent more than a decade wrangling with the misconduct charges against Hlophe.

While Hlophe said it’s premature to suggest that as his party’s top legal mind, he will serve on the body, Judges Matter said this would present another awkward situation.

“It is quite extraordinary to see someone who was found guilty of failing to meet the standards of the judiciary, will now be assessing others on their ability to become judges.”

Hlophe has not clarified whether he will continue to pursue his Constitutional Court challenge against his impeachment.