Friday 28 August 2009

South Africa: Zuma ally- Judge Hlope off the hook! Investigation dropped!

Notation by Marc Aupiais

As Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, Judge Hlope was accused by multiple Constitutional Court Justices (the official name for Constitutional Court judges) of, what was seen by the press- based on a release by the Constitutional Court: as allegedly attempting to bribe or influence them, into ruling on the side of President Jacob Zuma, in connection with the then corruption case against the man who is currently President of the Republic of South Africa. The Judicial Service (not "Services" as some wrongly name it) Commission (JSC) was asked to investigate, in accordance with norms.

Not unexpectedly, when compared to recent developments, and the current political and judicial climate, the JSC recently dropped its investigation, in a decision which was not unanimous- with the dissenting judgement recommending the investigation continue.

For any real action to have been taken against Judge Hlope, would have required action by parliament, the JSC would thus have played more of an advisory or introductory role in any action- should action have been taken. Despite its position as an important voice in law, and its role in recommending Constitutional Court Justices, a finding by the JSC against Hlope would not have caused any final harm to the career of a judge, popular with the ruling party.

The case against Zuma itself was dropped by an acting head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the former head having been removed from his position by the ruling ANC, in a controversial decision being contested by the former head via legal action. The Scorpions, a specialist unit set up to fight Organised Crime, which had instituted investigations against the man who is now President of the Republic of South Africa, had already been disbanded a while prior the dropping of charges against Jacob Zuma. They had also been investigating Thabo Mbeki ally, then Chief of Police- Jackie Selebi. The over 700 corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma, were dropped after an NIA (National Intelligence Agency) tap conducted against Zuma rival, former President Thabo Mbeki- landed on the desk of Jacob Zuma's lawyer.

Other than the details of what has been labled by some as either an illegal intelligence leak, or illegal tap on the President of the Republic- most of the details as to why the charges of corruption against the President of South Africa, were dropped- were not made available to the public. Questions as to the legitimacy of the transfer of the tape of a tap on a political rival of Zuma- to Jacob Zuma's lawyer, and as to why this tape could possibly in any way vindicate Zuma of any offence he may or may not have committed, have still not to our service's knowledge, met any public clarification.

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