Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. File Photo: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Friday announced the judiciary had approached the police to find out who was behind defamatory allegations against judges that were widely circulated on social media platforms.

Mogoeng, accompanied by judge presidents Dunstan Mlambo and Cagney Musi, urged South Africans who have credible evidence against any judge to come forward and be prepared to give evidence in a commission of inquiry or a court of law. He said he was shown a tweet claiming that evidence of corruption was presented but nothing was done.

"The user claimed that evidence of capture of judges by [ANC's Ace Magashule] was given to us and nothing was done...we have never received any of such information. I've been assured by all colleagues and provincial leaders against whom disturbing allegations have been made that those allegations are false. In the absence of concrete proof to the contrary, I believe my colleagues," Mogoeng told reporters in Johannesburg on Friday.

"Anyone with evidence to support this confidence damaging allegations that any judge is corrupt and has been captured must stop hiding behind fictional characters or names. Please, make your true identity and contact details known to us the South African public. Tell us which judge has been captured or corrupted and by whom. If money or any benefit was given, tell us how much, when, and produce proof to that effect...and for the sake of the South African public that deserves a corrupt free judiciary, be prepared to give evidence in a court of law or a commission of inquiry. We are dead against corruption and capture."  

Mogoeng was responding to allegations of corruption leveled against some judges and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shamila Batohi. A list of judges and other leaders in the criminal justice system has been doing the rounds on social media, alleging they received cash from President Cyril Ramaphosa's 'CR17' campaign fund. The anonymous list was met with mixed reaction with some calling for an investigation into the judiciary, while some condemned the list, saying it was a "dirty campaign" by those opposing the fight to end corruption.

Batohi denied receiving R1.7 million from the Ramaphosa campaign as alleged in the circulated list.

The judges listed included Lettie Molopa-Sethosa and Sullet Potterill, who both delivered scathing judgments against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Mogoeng said the judiciary has asked the police for help.

"I have asked the secretary in the office of the chief justice Ms Sejosengwe to ask [Police Commissioner] General Khehla Sitole to use all capacity to uncover the real forces behind the masks making apparently gratuitous corruption allegations against the judiciary. We do not investigate, we are asking the police to do so because its part of their training to probe, and if they cannot do it, they will know who would do it better," Mogoeng said. 

"Only a sworn enemy of our constitutional democracy can make allegations so grave against the judiciary without evidence backing them up."

He added that those accused could sue for damages once the investigation is completed and no evidence of corruption is found.

"It would be an attack on the judiciary if there is no evidence. I do not want to rush to that conclusion because I assume that people believe they have evidence... that is why we are challenging them to come out of hiding, present it and demonstrate to SA that they deserve to be believed. Once their identity is uncovered, we would explore a possibility of criminal charges against them and to the extent that they mentioned certain judges, I would believe no one wants his or her name to be bandied about as a judge who secretly receives money from all sorts of corners."

African News Agency (ANA)