John Hlophe to lead 58 MK Party MPs in Parliament, but who is he?

John Hlophe is expected to lead the MK Party in Parliament. Picture: GCIS

John Hlophe is expected to lead the MK Party in Parliament. Picture: GCIS

Published Jun 25, 2024


June 25, 2024 marks a significant event in South African politics as the impeached judge John Hlophe assumes leadership of the UMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party caucus in Parliament.

The MK Party is expected to be the official opposition after the DA opted to join the ANC as part of the Government of National Unity. The MK Party’s 58 members of parliament were sworn into office on Tuesday in a move that reflects both continuity and change in the nations political landscape.

Hlophe is a prominent figure in South Africa’s legal sector, as he is known for his judicial career and significant contributions to the country’s legal system.

The 65-year-old is a former Judge President of the Western Cape Division of the High Court, a role he served for over two decades.

By his own admission, Hlophe shared during an African Legal Professionals Assocition event in Durban at the weekend, he had met with former president Jacob Zuma and they had agreed that the MKP would send its members to Parliament, led by Hlophe.

Hlophe studied law at the University of Natal, the University of Fort Hare and Cambridge University. He taught law at the University of Transkei before being appointed to the bench.

  • Hlophe went to Cambridge University in the UK in 1984 to pursue a Master of Laws (LLM) degree on a Livingstone Trust Scholarship
  • He became a temporary senior lecturer in the University of Zululand's law faculty in 1984–1985
  • He was given the Africa Educational Trust scholarship in 1985 so that he could study for a doctorate at Cambridge
  • Hlophe began working as a law lecturer at the University of Natal in 1988
  • At the age of 31, he began working as a professor and public law head at the University of Transkei in 1990
  • Hlophe became the nation's youngest high court judge when former president Nelson Mandela appointed him to the Cape Bench in 1995
  • At the age of 36, Hlophe became the first black judge to be appointed permanently to the Western Cape High Court when he was appointed as a judge in 1995. In addition, he was the first permanent academic employed as a High Court judge
  • In 1999, he was appointed by the Judicial Service Commission to the position of Deputy Judge President of the Cape Division
  • In 2000 Hlophe was appointed judge president of the Cape of Good Hope Provincial Division
  • In 2023, Hlophe, along with retired judge Nkola Motata became, were impeached by Parliament. He was impeached after the Judicial Services Commission found him guilty of gross misconduct. This was after an incident in 2008, where Hlophe was accused of attempting to influence the Constitutional Court's decision on search and seizure raids carried out by the Scorpions on properties of Jacob Zuma and French arms manufacturing giant Thint.