Cape Town - A bid has been launched to impeach South Africa’s Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, following “a racist and sexist attack against white male lawyers”.
Advocate Paul Hoffman SC, the Cape Town-based director of the Institute for Accountability (Ifaisa), laid the impeachment complaint against the Chief Justice, for alleged contempt of court, attempting to defeat the ends of justice or gross incompetence, with the Judicial Service Commission and the Chief Justice on Monday.
“The details of the complaint relate mainly to a speech made last month to Advocates for Transformation by the Chief Justice.
“The most serious aspects include allegations of contempt of court and attempting to defeat the ends of justice which it is alleged amount to gross misconduct justifying impeachment,” the institute said in a statement.
“In the alternative a complaint of gross incompetence is included in the complaint to cover the eventuality of the JSC being unable to find the necessary intention for the charges of contempt and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.”
Hoffman said: “He climbed off his perch and descended into the arena of debate and contestation over political issues which are pending in the courts – how the JSC is supposed to function and, prospectively, the constitutionality of the Legal Practice Bill.”
Hoffman said a number of organisations believed the Legal Practice Bill was unconstitutional.
On the Ifaisa website, the institution said: “Speaking at the Advocates for Transformation Dinner held on July 6, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng complained of what he called the apparent resistance to change by a good number of fellow South Africans who, to him, benefitted from opportunities reserved exclusively for them by the apartheid system.
“The Chief Justice well knows that it is foundational to our new constitutional order that the values of non-racism and non-sexism be upheld.
“The Chief Justice has sworn an oath of office that he will uphold the constitution. To launch a racist and sexist attack against white male lawyers, which is what the Chief Justice has done, does not serve to achieve or advance the type of transformed nation that is envisaged in the constitution,” the institution’s website read.
Hoffman told the Cape Argus: “The fact that he has publicly commented on matters which need to be decided in courts of law amounts to interference in the functioning of the judiciary. He’s not up to the job he’s meant to do. He’s guilty of contempt of court or attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
“But if the JSC rules that he doesn’t understand what he’s doing, then he’s grossly incompetent,” Hoffman said.
The Chief Justice’s spokeswoman, Lulama Luti, said: “If a complaint has been laid with the commission, then we will await its processes to unfold accordingly.”