Johannesburg - Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng had some stern words for members of the media during his keynote address at the 67 minutes Leadership Talk in Kempton Park on Wednesday.
He was speaking at the Hope Restoration Ministries at a People Matter Foundation event ahead of Mandela Day on Thursday.
Mogoeng, who said it was important to have frank discussions, was irked by a recent Sunday Times report, which was written by Jacques Pauw, which appeared to discredit a witness, Keletso Bizoski Manyike, who was interviewed into investigations into the SARS ‘Rogue Unit’ by the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
The article branded Manyike as an apparent discredited, unemployed and pot-smoking Rastafarian.
Mogoeng said he was left with the impression and had wondered why the investigation into the unit would rely on such a person, until he saw the Newzroom Afrika interview with JJ Tabane where Manyika set the record straight on the story.
“Until on Monday the man appeared on Channel 405, the man was sound and articulated what happened… I’m not saying he was telling the truth, but he did not strike me as a man who lives in a hace all the time,” said Mogoeng.
Mogoeng said he was prepared for the resultant insults which may follow after he spoke out earlier on Tuesday morning. He also said it was wrong that journalists appeared to “agree” on issues, criticizing certain reportage on issues in the public fora.
“An injustice is an injustice, regardless of who the perpetrator is. We will get this country right if moving from this meeting, we are determined not to be told who is clean and who dirty. We are going to research it ourselves, where there is smoke, we will follow it up to its logical conclusions,” he said.
“Sadly some of the things we read about other people, some of the things our analysts would like to feed us with, are designed to project some negatively and others always in a positive. That is not how to build a nation,” he said.
Mogoeng appeared to call on the media to expose all corruption, and said the Gupta Family was not the only problem.
“It will be a disservice to the nation if we were ever to allow ourselves to believe that once you have dealt with the Gupta situation, you have dealt with corruption. It’s a fallacy. I carry no brief for them.
“When did our SOEs (state-owned enterprises) begin to lose money massively, who else is benefitting from the coal issue at Eskom. Have we ever bothered to find out how much are other people getting. Who is benefitting from SAA all these years? Why are we not curious, Mandela would want to know,” he said.
Addressing apparent media bias, Mogoeng lashed out and said the media had a duty to inform the public, and not misinform it.
"There is something about America because when you turn to CNN you know what to expect, when you turn to Fox News you know what to expect. But our Constitution says, our media houses exist to inform, not to misinform the public.
“There is a critical role the media has to play to make sure that not some corruption, but all corruption is uprooted. The media has a critical role in ensuring not some unethical leaders are exposed, but all,” he said.
Mogoeng also slammed sections of the media for apparent favouritism and taking sides on matters and vilifying others to make others look good.
“No leader in the private sector, political system, judiciary and in the media, ought to be allowed to target innocent people and make them look bad for flimsy reasons. And we just sit back and say it is none of our business. I think enough of this, we have to be vocal, this is our country.
“I am ready to be insulted, after all that is how I was baptised into my office. I am ready to be misrepresented and deliberately misunderstood, in pursuit of the ideals Mandela was prepared to die,” he said.
Mogoeng said he would not allow himself to be intimidated into silence and said he bore the “chief responsibility for justice in our country”.
“I am not going to allow myself to be intimidated into silence. I have seen through all the shenanigans that will keep us stagnant for another 25-to-50 years. When I do wrong, criticize me factually,” he said.IOL