Press Release: The HSF Objects To The Shortlisting Of Judge President Hlophe And Adv Mkhwebane In The List Of Nominees For Consideration For The Position Of Chief Justice

The Helen Suzman Foundation Submitted Its Objections To The Shortlisting Panel And The Presidency On The Nomination And Shortlisting Of Potential Chief Justice Candidates Judge President John Hlophe And Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a Shortlisting Panel to assist in recommending candidates for the position of the Chief Justice. On 15 October 2021, the Helen Suzman Foundation (“HSF”) submitted its objections to the Shortlisting Panel against Judge President John Hlophe and the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The position of Chief Justice can be considered one of the most important positions in our democracy. Integral to a strong and independent Judiciary, which the public can have confidence in, is the Chief Justice. It therefore must be a person of unblemished integrity who embodies the qualities of independence and impartiality, not to mention having the administrative skills which are needed by the head of the Judiciary.

The HSF submits that both Judge President Hlophe and Adv Mkhwebane do not possess the requirements for leading the Judiciary. Neither candidate meets the criteria set out by the Shortlisting Panel. The findings of the Judicial Conduct Tribunal and the Judicial Service Commission of gross misconduct against Judge President Hlophe and the subsequent impeachment proceedings which are underway in the National Assembly, make him unfit to hold the position of Chief Justice. Likewise, the findings made by the National Assembly’s Independent Panel against Adv Mkhwebane, detailing her incompetence and misconduct, also render her unsuited to hold the position. The HSF therefore strongly objects to the shortlisting of either Judge President Hlophe and Adv Mkhwebane for the position of Chief Justice, as it is clear that neither has the requisite competence or, we believe, the integrity.

To see the HSF’s full objections click here.

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Chelsea Ramsden
Senior Legal Researcher