‘In name of Christianity, shame on you’: Chief Justice Mogoeng lambasted over Israel comments
Pressure continued to mount on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Saturday to apologise and retract his pro-Israel comments on the eve of annexation of more Palestinian land.
Former deputy justice minister Johnny de Lange described Mogoeng’s comments as totally ignorant of the injustices and suffering of Palestinians.
“And then he tells us he does this in his personal capacity in the name of Christianity. In the name of his religion he is prepared to whitewash the state terrorism of the Zionist Israeli state. Shame on you Chief Justice,” De Lange said.
In an open letter, Howard Law School Professor Ziyad Motala said Mogoeng’s conduct was even more troubling as he is Chief Justice.
“As I further understand judicial ethics, in surveying democratic practice, in the annals of comparative constitutional law, I have never seen or heard a Chief Justice, nor any judge that publicly questions and rebukes their government’s foreign policy and sides with a foreign power against their government,” Motala said.
Motala, who has known Mogoeng for 36 years, added that his comments were misinformed, repugnant and disgraceful.
The Media Review Network described Mogoeng’s comments as inconsistent with the ethos and the Chief Justice’s office as well as the oath of allegiance to uphold the Constitution that he swore to uphold.
Mogoeng has also been threatened with a complaint to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which he chairs, while the ANC wants National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise to talk to the country’s top judge.
His former colleague, retired Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob, has called on the JSC to investigate his statements with the possibility of censuring him for breaching the official code of conduct by appearing in public in his capacity as Chief Justice and making comments that are in contradiction with South African foreign policy.
Human rights organisation #Africa4Palestine has also indicated that it will lay a complaint against Mogoeng with the JSC.
Addressing a webinar organised by The Jerusalem Post this week, Mogoeng claimed he was under an obligation as a Christian to love Israel and pray for Jerusalem’s peace, which means that country’s peace.
Mogoeng’s comments have been widely condemned, with the governing party expressing its concern about his statements and demanding high-level talks with him for what it regards as political commentary.
The EFF demanded Mogoeng retract his comments and unequivocally condemn Israel for oppressing Palestinians.
While the ANC said it feels the Chief Justice has entered the Israeli-Palestinian issue on the side of the oppressors (the Israeli regime). Its 53rd National Conference declared that “the ANC is unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel”.
It is problematic that the Chief Justice is making such utterances when there is a matter at the Constitutional Court involving Cosatu and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies that is dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The ANC and South Africa respects freedom of expression but we feel the Chief Justice should have been more cautious.
What’s more worrying is his statement comes when Israel, with the support of Donald Trump and the US, is planning to annex 30% of the West Bank and Jordan Valley. The plan is likely to displace some 300 000 Palestinian people from their homes, leaving them destitute, homeless and landless.
“As a progressive student movement that values deeply the principle of progressive international solidarity, Sasco calls on all students and progressive forces in civil society to support the call for the Chief Justice to retract his statement of support for Apartheid Israel.
“Furthermore, the Chief Justice must recuse himself from the case of Cosatu v SAJBD which sits before him at the Constitutional Court as he is clearly compromised and cannot provide an unbiased judgment in this case,” it said in the statement.
Mogoeng’s office declined to comment on the matter.