The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) Covid-19 vaccine complaint against outgoing Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has taken a new twist, with the gender of the activist who lodged the grievance being questioned.
Last month, Justice Mogoeng, whose tenure as the country’s top judge ends later this year, claimed the Covid-19 vaccine is the devil's work meant to infuse 666 (anti-Christ) in people’s lives and corrupt their DNA and should be destroyed by fire.
He later defended the statement, stating that if the Covid-19 vaccine was infused with 666 to corrupt people’s DNA, he wanted God to destroy it.
”I don’t care about the consequences. We’ve been quiet for too long, toeing the line. I’m not going to toe any line and it doesn’t matter how many people criticise me. When I believe that I need to address this issue, I’m going to do it,” said Justice Mogoeng.
His utterances were widely condemned and prompted the founder of non-profit organisation the African Alliance, Tian Johnson, to file a complaint with the JSC.
In the complaint, Johnson said the African Alliance has shown that Justice Mogoeng acted in a manner incompatible with, and unbecoming of, a person holding judicial office and it breached the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Johnson said Justice Mogoeng may not necessarily have had the intention of deceiving his audience but the urgent need to counter the spread of fake news, misinformation and fear meant he failed to comply with the spirit of the law.
However, the African Alliance’s complaint may have hit a snag after pressure group Liberty Fighters Network (LFN) filed an objection to its complaint with the JSC.
In the African Alliance’s complaint, which the JSC requires to be filed via an affidavit, Johnson described him/herself as a “non-binary adult” (a term widely used to refer to people whose gender is neither male nor female).
The LFN has told the JSC that the African Alliance’s complaint is incompetent in law as there is no provision in South African statutes to identify a person other than either a male or a female.
”It appears from the claimed affidavit by the individual known as Tian Johnson that this person did not identify himself/herself as either a male or female and chose to use the term ‘non-binary’,” reads the network’s objection.
The LFN insisted that the South African ID document presently only makes provision for the identification of a person as either “male” or “female”.
”Even if this person called Tian Johnson legally changed his/her assigned sex in terms of the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act 2003, no provision is made in our law to identify a sex other than being either male or female,” the LFN explained in its objection.
It has informed the JSC that the complainant’s affidavit is incompetent in law and cannot legally be used in support of the complaint against Justice Mogoeng.
The organisation stated that it fully supports gender equality and non-discrimination against any sexual orientation, but that the measure to classify a person as either a male or female is for purposes of identification.
”We humbly submit that it is our view that any person is entitled to a gender and/or sexual orientation classification of choice, however, for purposes of identification, a clear and definite assigned sex must, at present, be utilised in law,” the LFN said.
The JSC has been given until Friday to reject the African Alliance’s complaint on the grounds that there is no affidavit in its support.
”In the event that the JSC, and/or the Judicial Conduct Committee, should opt to proceed after above date to prosecute this complaint against South Africa's Chief Justice, we shall approach the High Court for suitable relief,” the group said.
Johnson told Independent Media yesterday that the African Alliance has been in touch with the JSC on the LFN’s objection and will be filing its supplementary papers today (Wednesday).
Johnson described the objection as merely a distraction.