Judge Hlophe lawyers hit back at Kriegler over suspension call

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By: Cape Times

Cape Town – Freedom Under Law (FUL) chairperson of litigation and retired Constitutional Court judge Johann Kriegler has remained tight-lipped after lawyers representing Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe slammed his comments.

Barnabas Xulu from B Xulu and Partners said a previous statement made by Justice Kriegler calling for Judge President Hlophe’s suspension was “unfounded and without merit”.

This was after Judge Hlophe dismissed the corruption case against former state security minister Bongani Bongo.

Bongo was accused of trying to bribe evidence leader advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara in the Eskom Inquiry in Parliament a few years ago.

In a statement, Xulu said: “The internet is littered with statements which have been issued variously over many years by retired Justice Johann Kriegler, directly attacking the person of Judge President Hlophe.

“It is reported in the news media that on March 1, 2021 Justice Kriegler issued yet another such statement, where he is reported to have said, among other things, that Judge President Hlophe had delivered a ‘patently dishonest judgment’ in the matter of State v Bongo over which Judge President Hlophe had presided,” said Xulu.

He said Justice Kriegler’s call for Judge Hlophe’s suspension could not simply be done due to Kriegler disagreeing with the judgment.

“The statements attributed to Justice Kriegler are serious, deliberate and disparaging of a sitting judge for having taken a decision in the execution of his judicial functions.

’’They are unfounded and without merit. It is important for the public to know that a judge cannot be suspended simply because certain influential persons disagree with that judge’s analysis and/or conclusion in their judgment.”

Approached for comment yesterday, Kriegler said they had no comment following on Xulu’s statement. The organisation said it will analyse Judge Hlophe’s judgment.