Johannesburg – Former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has launched blistering attacks on his former colleagues in the judiciary as he singled out Gauteng deputy judge president Phineas Mojapelo and prominent Western Cape judge Dennis Davis for his withering assessment.
Speaking at East London Downtown Christian Centre on his Eastern Cape tour dubbed A Message to the Nation, Mogoeng fell short of questioning their integrity and that of the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC), as he insisted that he would not apologise for remarks he made over the state of Israel during an online webinar hosted by the Jerusalem Post in June last year.
The JCC, adjudicated by Mojapelo, in March found Mogoeng guilty and ordered him to apologise unconditionally for contravening South African policy on the state of Israel and for judicial misconduct of using his position to advance his interests and those of the Jerusalem Post through his participation in their programme.
The complaint was brought by several organisations, including Africa 4 Palestine, SA Boycott Disinvestments and Sanctions Coalition, and Women’s Cultural Group.
Mogoeng, who finished his term as the head of the judiciary last month, doubled down and said the government had no such policy towards Israel.
He has appealed the decision. He said the verdict was part of a smear campaign to discredit him, questioning Mojapelo for arriving at that conclusion without referring to the policy.
“How can I be found guilty by a judge on something that doesn’t exist, because what it means is the same thing as you’ve been accused of … having killed a person that was never born.
“I know that a judge or magistrate can make a mistake, but they know that it is their responsibility to check that which has been violated, study it, and say indeed,” said Mogo eng in a speech on Friday.
Mogoeng, who has opened the door to run for political office, added: “If injustice and iniquity can be perpetrated against those in a position of leadership, the rest of the citizens must forget about the possibility of justice ever be administered to them.”
Turning his attention to Mojapelo, he said by his standards there were many judges who would have to be found guilty of having a critical view or an opinion on matters beyond the judicial sphere.
Mogoeng disclosed that he had cited Mojapelo in his appeal over an opinion article he wrote, which was published by the Sunday Times, in which he was criticising former president Jacob Zuma for exercising his powers to nominate one candidate when he had nominated Justice Sandile Ngcobo for the position of chief justice.
He said Mojapelo knew that what he was criticising Zuma for had been done by other sitting presidents in appointments of chief justices, deputy chief justices, and at least one appeal court judge president, the retired Lex Mpati.
Mogoeng read out some of the findings Mojapelo had written about his conduct and said they should also be applied to him for his critique of Zuma.
He also cited another former Constitutional Court judge, Zach Yacoob [without naming him], who had participated in Save South Africa Coalition, which mobilised on calls for Zuma to step down.
Mogoeng said his retired former deputy Dikgang Moseneke had also made public statements on the land question, and made political remarks on the formation of the ANC as a result of the ongoing natives’ land dispossession.
Mogoeng then turned his attention to Davis, who hosts a TV show titled Judge For Yourself. He said Davis had hosted a debate on the Israel/ Palestine issue on his television show.
“I stopped Dennis Davis from hosting Judge For Yourself but I see he’s back at it because I’m gone.”
Davis is the chair of the Davis Tax Committee. Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in a Judiciary Special edition newsletter paid a glowing tribute to Mogoeng as he praised “… his outstanding leadership”, which he said had “greatly enhanced the standing of the judiciary in our country”.
Zondo, president of the Supreme Court of Appeal Mandisa Maya, Justice Dunstan Mlambo, and Justice Mbuyiseli Mad Langa are all in the running to replace Mogoeng as head of the judiciary.
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