Office of Chief Justice denies JSC sent investigators to probe Goliath's alleged assassination plot

The Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) says Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng does not commission any investigation into threats to members of the judiciary, adding that the alleged plot to assassinate Western Cape deputy judge president Patricia Goliath was no exception.

In a statement released on Sunday, the office said it deemed it prudent to clarify certain issues relating to its role in supporting the judiciary regarding their security. The OCJ has denied that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) sent investigators to probe the plot.

A preliminary report about the alleged plot has been referred to the police and State Security Agency.

The document was compiled by the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS), News24 earlier reported.

The OCJ statement follows Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe's call for a judicial commission of inquiry to clear up allegations against him, the latest being that he allegedly plotted to have Goliath killed.

Hlophe's lawyer Barnabus Xulu said the first time his client heard of the assassination plot claim was through media reports which were based on a JISC probe into a claim made by an informant, who is serving a sentence in prison, News24 reported.

In Hlophe's view, Mogoeng should not have been party to the assassination plot investigation because he may also be a witness in other allegations against him, which revolve around the dispute between Goliath and Hlophe.

Xulu said that, on 31 August, the judge president lodged a complaint of "gross judicial misconduct" against Mogoeng, relating to the "biased manner in which he handled the complaint by Goliath DJP against him and the fact that the chief justice had adjudicated a complaint in which he was potentially a witness to the allegations".

Xulu also said: "We have reflected with Judge President Hlophe on the implications of these malicious reports about him and can only emphasise the gravity of the allegations – not only for him as the person falsely implicated in the reports – but for the judicial independence and the integrity of the judicial officer.

"Given the gravity of the allegations, the judge president calls for a swift public and transparent investigation of the issues by a judicial commission of inquiry."

However, in the Sunday night statement released by the OCJ, said the JSC Secretariat, whose responsibilities are limited to rendering administrative support to the JSC, received information telephonically from a member of the Grahamstown Bar on 4 June 2020 about an alleged plot to assassinate Goliath.

"This information was immediately relayed to the OCJ Head of Security. It is necessary to mention that the Secretariat did not at any given time send any investigators to investigate the alleged plot.

"This is so because neither the Secretariat nor the JSC has the mandate to investigate such allegations."

It said on the same date, the office's head of security received information telephonically from DJP Goliath and the JSC Secretariat about the allegations.

"Pursuant to this information the Head of Security, as per OCJ standard protocol, requested Western Cape SAPS to conduct a threat and risk assessment with a view to providing security to the DJP, if necessary.

"As an interim measure whilst waiting for the outcome of the threat and risk assessment, a contracted security service was provided to the DJP. The outcome of the assessment was later verbally communicated to the OCJ head of security and DJP goliath.

"To date, the OCJ has not received any written report from Western Cape SAPS. Security provided to the members of the Judiciary facing a threat is an OCJ administrative function which does not require any involvement by the chief justice.

"The Chief Justice does not commission any investigation into threats to members of the Judiciary and this matter [Goliath matter] was no exception. It is the responsibility of OCJ officials, under the leadership of the secretary-general, as the head of the OCJ as a national department to request SAPS to conduct threat and risk assessments for the Judiciary where necessary."

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