Judicial Conduct Committee ruled that he must retract and apologise for a comment he made about the Palestine-Israeli dispute in June last year
CHIEF Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has lodged an appeal against a ruling of the Judicial Conduct Committee led by retired Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo on his comment about the Palestine-Israeli dispute in June last year.
Last week, Mogoeng was ordered to retract his comments and make a public apology. Mojapelo directed Mogoeng to read his unconditional apology and retraction for his pro-Israel comments in a meeting of all serving Constitutional Court justices and publicly release it. Mogoeng was given 10 days to comply with the committee’s ruling.
The ruling on March 5 came after Justice Mogoeng told a webinar organised by The Jerusalem Post that he was under an obligation as a Christian to love Israel and pray for Jerusalem’s peace, which means that country’s peace.
“If I curse Abraham and Israel, the Almighty God will curse me too. I cannot do anything as a Christian other than love and pray for Israel because I know hatred for Israel by me and for my nation can only attract unprecedented curses,” he said at the time.
These prompted the #Africa4Palestine, the South African BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Coalition and the Women’s Cultural Group to lodge a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) under Judge Mojapelo.
At the time, Justice Mogoeng wrote to the JCC in his defence, saying: “The Israeli-Palestine politics or issues are not an integral part of South African politics … They are peripheral and not inherently South African in character, although they deserve the attention of South Africa.”
Justice Mogoeng told Judge Mojapelo that the code did not forbid the involvement of a member of the judiciary in extrajudicial activities including those embodied in the rights as citizens subject to certain qualifications.
”Mature democracies don’t penalise judges for holding strong views on Christianity or any religion. They insist on transparency. That should apply to South Africa as well,” Justice Mogoeng maintained.
Judge Mojapelo ruled against Justice Mogoeng and directed him to read his unconditional apology and retraction for his pro-Israel comments in a meeting of all serving Constitutional Court justices and publicly release it.
The JCC on Saturday confirmed that Justice Mogoeng has lodged an appeal against the ruling.
The JCC said: “The Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa, Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has signified his intention to appeal the decision made by Mojapelo DJP, a member of the Judicial Conduct Committee in the complaints lodged by Africa4Palestine, SABDS Coalition and the Women’s Cultural Group.
“The JCC will in due course determine the date on which the appeal would be heard by at least three of its members. Members of the JCC who are eligible to hear the appeal are Deputy Chief Justice R M M Zondo, Justices D H Zondi, N Dambuza and M Victor,” a statement said.
– Political Bureau