SA BDS Coalition to oppose CJ Mogoeng's appeal application
14 March 2021
The South African BDS Coalition is once again appalled, but not surprised, that the Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, has rejected the instruction given by Justice Mojapelo from the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) to apologise to the SA BDS Coalition and two other organisations.
The complaints we laid centred on the statements that the Chief Justice made in June last year during a webinar hosted by the right-wing Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post. Mogoeng appeared, along with South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, and the event was marketed under the theme “Two Chief, One Mission”.
The timing of the event was not coincidental. The webinar was just prior to South Africa raising objections to Israel’s planned annexation of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley at the UN Security Council.
The Chief Justice expressed the view that criticism of Israel for its occupation and human rights violations against Palestinians is regarded as criticising “God’s Will, which will incur God’s wrath”. With the South African state perceived to be a vocal critic of Israel, Mogoeng was suggesting that the state’s position on Israel’s occupation of Palestine would “attract unprecedented curses upon our nation.”
Justice Mojapelo of the JCC agreed with us that the Chief Justice knowingly criticised the government position on Palestine. Comments concerning the diplomatic relationship between South Africa and Israel, which was “clearly political territory”, breached the requirement in the Judicial Service Commission Act of Judges not to get “involved in any political controversy or activity”. The JCC provided the Chief Justice 10 days to apologise for his pro-Israel comments. The JCS has issued a statement today indicating that the Chief Justice “has signified his intention to appeal the decision”.
We are not surprised at the incalcitrant behaviour of the Chief Justice. In the weeks following the webinar, Mogoeng demonstrated brazen defiance when he publically stated at a prayer meeting on the 4th of July: “I will never, even if 50 million people can march every day for the next 10 years, for me to retract or apologise for what I say, I will not do it.”. This comment indicates commitment to his pro-Israeli comments and his inability to be humble or reflect on his actions. The JCC took umbrage at this rebuff to the processes of judicial peer-review and Constitutionality that underpin our legal system.
This disregard for the ruling of Justice Mojapelo from the JCC demonstrates he is not interested in upholding the Constitutionality of his office by respecting the decision of his peers. The 67-page ruling by the JCC was comprehensive and conclusive and we will oppose the Chief Justice’s application to Appeal.
Statement issued by South African BDS Coalition, 14 March 2021