Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng

’Misdirected and flawed’: Chief Justice Mogoeng slams judgment on his Israel comments

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Apr 4, 2021

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Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has slammed retired Gauteng Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo's decision to force him to apologise for his pro-Israel comments.

Justice Mogoeng is appealing Mojapelo's decision finding that his comments at a webinar breached the Code of Judicial Conduct.

He described Judge Mojapelo's reasoning as flawed and disturbingly superficial.

In his 39-page appeal to the Judicial Conduct Committee, Justice Mogoeng states that Mojapelo misdirected himself in material respect by finding that the complaints Africa Palestine, Women Cultural Group and the SA Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Coalition were not about the constitutional rights to the freedom of religion, belief, thought and opinion and freedom of expression.

"His Lordship adopted an approach to the interpretation of a legal instrument that is at odds with the binding principles of interpretation laid down in the Constitutional Court decisions in Cool Ideas, Chisuse and other cases," reads Justice Mogoeng's grounds of appeal.

He said Judge Mojapelo failed to interpret the code in a manner that promotes the spirit, purpose and objects of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, belief, thought and opinion and recognise the supremacy of the Constitution over the code.

According to Justice Mogoeng, Judge Mojapelo's finding that his participation in the Jerusalem Post webinar in June last year was an extra-judiciary activity is a misdirection and flawed when he (Judge Mojapelo) wrote an opinion piece on former president Jacob Zuma's powers to nominate and appoint the chief justice in 2011.

He said other senior judges such as retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, former Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron and another retired Judge Dennis Davis have previously made public pronouncements about contentious political issues such as land equity and the Palestine-Israel situation.

Justice Mogoeng wants all findings of guilt made by Judge Mojapelo and the remedial action that he must publicly apologise to be set aside.

Political Bureau

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