In a blistering comeback, Western Cape high court Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe has accused Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath of lying, of wanting to oust Judge President John Hlophe and of racism.
On January 15 Goliath laid a complaint of gross misconduct with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) against Salie-Hlophe and her husband, Judge President John Hlophe. The complaint made a number of allegations against the two judges, including that Salie-Hlophe wielded inordinate power at their court, influencing which judges were allocated to which cases and who was appointed to act as judges.
Goliath also said that she had been sidelined by Hlophe after Salie-Hlophe involved her in a private domestic incident at Hlophe’s house.
On Saturday, Salie-Hlophe responded saying Goliath’s allegations were “palpably untruthful … gossip, designed and orchestrated to ridicule me in the course of pursuing an agenda of destruction”.
“The complaint is simply a bitter spew to oust the judge president, [showing her] ambition to succeed him and to garner herself the entitlement she believes she is rather more suitable for,” she said.
Salie-Hlophe said Goliath’s claim that she was involved in the administration and management of the division was “a complete fabrication”.
“I do not allocate cases to my colleagues, I do not appoint or terminate acting appointments as that falls within the purview of the minister of justice, nor do I recommend candidates for acting appointments to the judge president … Not a single judge had to date acted upon my recommendation or was ever proposed by me,” Salie-Hlophe said.
Goliath was “delusional” to say that Salie-Hlophe’s working conditions were different to those of any other judges. Instead, Salie-Hlophe volunteered, together with some colleagues, to do extra work on case-flow management, over and beyond her duties, she said.
She said that Goliath’s “malicious reports on my private life [were] launched like a scud missile to injure me, my family, my elders and my community in an attempt to destroy me and advance her career”.
In her complaint, Goliath said she had no option but to disclose the private domestic incident because when she confronted Hlophe about being sidelined, at a meeting in October last year, he had himself referred to the incident, saying she interfered in his personal life.
Goliath said Salie-Hlophe had called her from Hlophe’s home and “disclosed certain information — which I elect not to set out herein.”
Goliath said Salie-Hlophe had asked her to go to her own house to check on her children as there had been an electricity cut. “She later arrived at her house … clearly distressed and in pain. She asked me to take her to hospital and explained in graphic detail what had transpired at Hlophe JP’s house. Her hand, it appears, was injured during an altercation. The injury was sufficiently serious to require stitches,” said Goliath.
The next time Goliath saw the judge president, Salie-Hlophe had said something to him — “certain damaging allegations” — and Hlophe had said that, because of these allegations he did not want to work with Goliath any more, the deputy judge president said.
In her response, Salie-Hlophe did not directly address what happened that day at Hlophe’s house. Instead she said she was “keenly aware that Goliath has an unhealthy obsession with my marriage”.
“She had expressed to me that I should drop the “Hlophe” [from] my double-barrel surname and that, should I not choose to exit the marriage, ‘others’ will wonder why I am married to ‘an old black man’.
“We raise a family together, we have brought our cultures and communities together and we enjoy a union of mutual respect, understanding and intend growing old together. I was shocked that she would encourage me to leave my husband, she would try to make me disillusioned in the marriage and that as his deputy and purported as my friend she could consider this appropriate,” Salie-Hlophe said.
Salie-Hlophe also addressed Goliath’s statement that another reason she believed she was sidelined was because of her approach to the allocation of a judge in the S v Rohde case, in which Jason Rohde was accused of murdering his wife.
Goliath had said it was a high-profile case that she felt it was better heard by a senior judge with more criminal law experience, but Hlophe had disagreed and allocated Salie-Hlophe. Later Salie-Hlophe had come to her to discuss the allocation; the deputy judge president explained that she was not questioning Salie-Hlophe’s ability: she just thought a more senior judge was more suitable, said Goliath. That was on a Friday. On the following Monday Hlophe was “visibly angry with me [and] gave me hostile stares”, Goliath said.
Salie-Hlophe said that she had asked Goliath why there was a difference between the Rohde case and two other cases, one involving the murder and rape of a teenager in Tokai forest and another concerning a young woman found in a mobile toilet in Khayelitsha, which had also elicited media attention, but had been allocated to junior judges.
Salie-Hlophe said: “Goliath exclaimed that those were different as it were ‘Cape Flats matters!’”
“It is clearly Goliath’s stance that matters become more serious and ‘sensitive’ depending on the race and class of the parties involved, which goes against the fundamental constitutional principle of equality.”
She added: “She [Goliath] would openly and comfortably state that during her life people treated her condescendingly but at least she is not a “kaffirtjie”, regarding it as an accomplishment.”
Goliath could not immediately be reached for comment. This story will be updated with comment if and when it is obtained.