Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke (centre) is flanked by (to the right) Nelson Mandela University’s outgoing vice-chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz, vice-chancellor designate Dr Sibongile Muthwa, (to the left) Chair of Council Ms Nozipho January-Bardill and outgoing Chancellor Ms Santie Botha after receiving the newly renamed and rebranded institution’s first honorary doctoral degree today. Pic: SUPPLIED

Port Elizabeth - Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke humbly received an honorary doctorate in law at the Nelson Mandela University on Thursday, and roundly rejected any suggestion that any judge in the country acted with ulterior motives. 

"Remember, judges do not choose cases. Cases come to them. Remember that judges have no luxury of choosing the kind of conflict. These are brought by citizens and indeed by many mongers of power," he said in his acceptance speech. 

"However, judges themselves seek no power, influence or control of the State. They seek no more money than they earn as prescribed by law and they try to espouse the best values and the highest values of our people because, after all, it is not what the political elite want, it is what is good for the people." 

Moseneke showed gratitude to his wife Khabonina, for being the silent, non-intrusive and solid bedrock of his life journey for 42 years. 

"Somebody reminded [me] that you do not get an honorary doctorate on the day that it is conferred, so there is no need to be bombastic at all," he said on Thursday. 

Moseneke, who served as a judge for 15 years and who has since retired, was all praises for his judicial colleagues.

"History will show that they are great patriots. They are not what some politicians tell you on public media. Judges often stand between lawlessness and the modicum of democratic practice. They stand between your oppression and hard won rights to live well as human beings." 

Moseneke said that he was proud of his fellow colleagues who do not blink when crucial and critical moments face South Africa. 

"My fellow judges understand the onerous duty that our collective will, which is the Constitution, imposes on them. Having this opportunity, I reject with deep contempt any suggestion that any of our judges are acting for some ulterior motive. I have lived with them. I have led them. And they are wonderful patriots and will continue to keep you and me safe." 

Moseneke said him being honoured at NMU on Thursday reinforced his revolutionary connection as well as his father-and-son relationship with late statesman Nelson Mandela. 

"Comrade Mandela emphatically rejected narrow self-serving party lines and hegemony in favour of inclusivity, of non-racialism, of non-sexism. He trusted in merit and compassion the stuff that true revolutionaries and humanists are made of," he said. 

He had wise words for fellow graduates, encouraging them to be steadfast in being good, doing good, sharing goodness, not power, greed or arrogance.