The FXI made submissions to the Judicial Service Commission (hereinafter “the Commission”) with regard to a hearing that was to be held at the Constitutional court in respect of a compliant by the Justices of the Constitutional Court against Judge President Hlophe.
In the month of July 2008, the Commission issued a notification affording all interested parties the opportunity to address two issues relating to the compliant; firstly whether the hearing into the complaint should be made Public and secondly if it is agreed that they be made public what degree of media coverage of the hearing should be permissible.
The FXI in its submissions principally highlighted that the Commission as an organ of state is bound by the principle of openness that is expressed by the Constitution. Also that matters such as these were in the public interest. Further, indicating that the media is a means for the public’s access to information.
The FXI emphasized amongst other things the benefit from the publicizing of the hearing namely would be to;
- Public interest,
- Advancement of the principle of openness, echoed by the Constitution;
- Encouraging the lodging of complaints;
- Maintenance of public confidence in the judiciary; and
- The role of the media.
The Commission however upon deliberation of the matter decided that the hearing would not be made public. Citing the fact that the kind of allegations that had been made were potentially damaging and therefore in observing the imperative to protect the dignity and stature of both the Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice at the time concerned as well as the Judicial office. The Commission held that there was good cause for exclusion of the public from the hearings.
The FXI in its involvement with the matter tried to achieve the holding of offices such as the Judiciary to account in terms of their obligations of transparency in an open and democratic society through the dissemination of such information in the media.