Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Pressure mounts on Chief Justice Mogoeng to apologise over pro-Israel comments

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Mar 5, 2021

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Pressure is mounting on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to respect the Judicial Conduct Committee’s decision forcing him to unconditionally apologise and retract his pro-Israel comments.

Retired Gauteng Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo has found that Justice Mogoeng breached the Code of Judicial Conduct with his June 2020 utterances at a webinar organised by The Jerusalem Post.

Mojapelo ordered Justice Mogoeng, whose term in office ends later this year, to read his public apology and retraction at a meeting of serving justices of the Constitutional Court and publicly release a copy under his signature.

The SA Communist Party (SACP) called upon Justice Mogoeng to comply with Mojapelo’s decision, humble himself, unreservedly apologise for and retract the utterances he made in June last year.

According to the SACP, Justice Mogoeng’s subsequent remarks intransigently reaffirmed the utterances that led to the complaints from #Africa4Palestine, the South African BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Coalition and the Women’s Cultural Group.

”By complying with the decision, Chief Justice Mogoeng will help restore public trust and respect for the judiciary, with the knowledge that no one, including the head of the judiciary, is above the law,” the organisation said on Friday.

Mojapelo found that Justice Mogoeng’s statements were proven to amount to judicial misconduct.

He described the country’s top judge’s statements, which were later repeated in writing, as particularly aggravating.

”They are brazenly defiant. It is important that that those utterances must be unreservedly retracted and withdrawn to return and maintain the public image of the judiciary to its rightful place,” said Mojapelo.

According to the decision, Justice Mogoeng failed to respect the separation of powers in contravention of the Code of Judicial Conduct by involving himself in extrajudicial activities incompatible with the confidence in and the impartiality of judges.

According to the South African Friends of Israel, Justice Mogoeng’s remarks were legitimate, fair and non-controversial and protested at the committee’s decision, warning that it could effectively have a chilling effect on future behaviour, which would be unacceptable in a constitutional democracy.

Justice Mogoeng has been encouraged to take the committee’s decision on review by the SA Zionist Federation.

The judiciary’s spokesperson, Nathi Mncube, said he would comment once he had an official statement to make.

Political Bureau

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