Mogoeng Mogoeng’s appeal dismissed, ordered to apologise for pro-Israel remarks

A defiant Mogoeng had argued that the Palestine-Israel dispute was peripheral and not inherently South African, in response to complaints against him.

Former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has lost his appeal before the the Judicial Conduct Appeals Committee against a complaint by Africa4Palestine, Women’s Cultural Group and the South African Boycott Divestment and Section Coalition against his remarks on Israel during a webinar last year.

Mogoeng was ordered by the Judicial Conduct Committee to retract and apologise for the pro-Israel utterances, a judgment he had challenged before the committee.

In his defence, Mogoeng said that he had an obligation, as a Christian, to love and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

On Thursday, a majority decision (Justice D H Zondi and Justice N Dambuza), decided in terms of section 18 (4)(c)(ii) of the Judicial Service Commission Act, 1994 to confirm Mojapelo DJP’s findings that Mogoeng had breached Article 12(1)(b) of the Judicial Code of Conduct (Code), in that he, through his utterances, involved himself in political controversy.

The Committee further found that Mogoeng breached Article 14(2)(a) of the Code of Judicial Conduct in that he was involved in extra-judicial activities which are incompatible with the confidence in and the impartiality of Judges.

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In line with the judgment, Mogoeng has since been ordered to “Issue an unconditional apology for becoming involved in political controversy through his utterances at the online seminar (webinar) hosted by the Jerusalem Post on 23 June 2020. A copy of the apology must be released by Mogoeng to the Office of the Chief Justice and the media within 10 days of this decision.”

“Judge Victor, the third member of the Judicial Conduct Appeals Committee penned a minority decision in which she would have upheld the appeal in its entirety, setting aside the findings of Mojapelo DJP and the remedial action that flowed therefrom,” a statement from the committee reads.

Pressure has been mounting on Mogoeng to comply with Mojapelo’s decision and apologise. However, he has been insistent that there was no constitutional value he undermined in his utterances.

Mogoeng has argued that the Palestine-Israel dispute is peripheral and not inherently South African, in response to complaints against him.

”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,” said Mogoeng.

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