Sat, 16 Jan 2021

No new cases have been assigned to suspended Western Cape High Court Judge Mushtak Parker, judiciary spokesperson Nathi Mncube said on Thursday.

This after Freedom Under Law warned that it would launch urgent proceedings in the Constitutional Court if reports that new work was allocated to him, were confirmed.

Last month, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) advised President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend Parker, pending the finalisation of complaints against him.

Parker denied claims that he had been physically attacked by Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe.

However, 15 of his colleagues alleged that the assault indeed took place and that he told them this and put the allegations in an unsigned affidavit, written for him by Judge Derek Wille.

Two complaints against Parker were referred to the Judicial Conduct Committee.

Some of his colleagues refused to work with him, accusing him of lying about the assault which allegedly occurred in his chambers when Hlophe accused him of "wanting to 'screw' his wife", fellow Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe.

On Thursday, Mncube said Parker had not been assigned any new cases since his suspension on 1 November.

"The condition of the suspension is that he must deal with his reserved judgments and part-heard matters," he said.

Freedom Under Law's Nicole Fritz said on Wednesday that it had instructed its lawyers to prepare an urgent application in the Constitutional Court, following reports that Hlophe had allocated Parker new judicial work. Freedom Under alleged that this would constitute a "grave breach of the rule of law".

Daily Maverick reported that Parker had been allocated the pre-trial criminal roll of the Western Cape High Court on 20 November, and that the pre-trial civil roll was also going to be allocated to him.

Mncube said the court roll had been prepared at the beginning of the term - not after Parker's suspension.

"We acknowledge that it should have been amended when the suspension came into effect, however, it doesn't mean that Judge Parker heard any new cases."

According to Mncube, no new cases have been assigned to Parker since 1 November.

READ | Top WC judge John Hlophe 'shocked' as reports link him to alleged plot to kill deputy

On Thursday, Fritz agreed that the roll should have been amended, saying there should not be a perception that any judge is not obeying an order by the president.

Meanwhile, Hlophe is expected to face a tribunal next month after he was accused of trying to influence Constitutional Court judges in a case involving former president Jacob Zuma. The case related to the validity of searches during the arms deal investigation. The tribunal proceedings come 12 years after a gross misconduct complaint was lodged against Hlophe.

Last month it was postponed when one of the witnesses and Hlophe's counsel, who is based in the UK, were not available.

In July, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng also recommended that a tribunal be established to investigate serious claims made against Hlophe by his deputy, Judge Patricia Goliath. In January, she lodged a 14-page complaint in which she accused him of gross misconduct.

Among her allegations were claims that he attempted to influence the appointment of judges perceived as "favourably disposed" to former president Jacob Zuma to preside over the so-called Earthlife Africa case, involving the controversial nuclear deal.

Mogoeng recommended that the tribunal investigate three of the serious claims. These were:

Source: News24

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