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I did not write that letter to Zuma – Mogoeng Mogoeng

FORMER president Jacob Zuma takes the oath of office administered by former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre at the Union Buildings, Pretoria. Elmond Jiyane, GCIS Photo Studio

FORMER president Jacob Zuma takes the oath of office administered by former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre at the Union Buildings, Pretoria. Elmond Jiyane, GCIS Photo Studio

Published Feb 15, 2022

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FORMER chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has denied personally writing a letter to former president Jacob Zuma instructing him to inform the Constitutional Court of measures that should be taken against him if found guilty of contempt of court.

On April 9 last year, Mogoeng reportedly penned a letter to Zuma asking him to file an affidavit, no longer than 15 pages within three days, on the appropriate sanction that should be imposed on him.

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The matter emanated from his failure to appear before the State Capture Commission for the second time in order to account for the corruption and maladministration that took place in the public sector including organs of state during his tenure as president.

He was hauled before the ConCourt.

In a letter he wrote back to Mogoeng, Zuma said: “I wish to advise you that I will not depose an affidavit as presently directed. Second, I wish to advise that my stance in this regard is not out of any disrespect for you or the Court, but stems from my conscientious objection to the manner in which I have been treated.”

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In giving his reasons for refusing to submit the requested affidavit, Zuma cited that he had not participated in “proceedings before the Constitutional Court” and that the process was not conducted in a fair manner.

On Monday night, Mogoeng told broadcaster JJ Tabane during an interview on his show Power to Truth, that he knew nothing about the document in question.

“I was not involved in that case. I’m not going to comment on what my colleagues did. I didn’t write a letter.”

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Mogoeng also said that while he was already on leave, all correspondence and directives that came out of the Constitutional Court were issued under the name of the chief justice.

Meanwhile, asked if he “felt left out” by all that transpired, including Zuma’s arrest, after he took early to leave, Mogoeng indicated that he felt obliged to take time off and laughed off suggestions that he was on suspension.

“I felt, at seven years already as chief justice, that I’ve done all that I needed to do. I started looking for a legal loophole for me to retire without losing out on my benefits and I couldn’t find it.

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“At the 11th hour, I asked the officials to find out if I had leave days and they said you do. I jumped for it. Mischief makers said I was on suspension. I don’t know for what. You know the lying spirit is mesmerising about people,” he said.

On freedom of expression in South Africa, he said: “Freedom of expression has gone out of the window. There is a lot of harassment of people who dare to express themselves freely as long as what they say does not accord with the preferred narrative. I think we must correct that.”

Mogoeng, who has received flak over his remarks on Covid-19 vaccines and his stance on the Israel, Palestine conflict for which he later issued an apology, said freedom of expression was under threat.

“People have professionalised lying. They lie with a straight face … There is a lot of hatred, a lot of emotion. There are lots of strong words,” he said.

Note: The Office of the Chief Justice is yet to comment on Mogoeng’s comment relating to the letter sent to Zuma. This story will be updated with the relevant comment.

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Political Bureau

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