The ANC has expressed concern following sentiments attributed to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng expressing his apparent support for Israel during a webinar hosted by The Jerusalem Post.
Mogoeng took part in the webinar along with South Africa’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein.
The Jerusalem Post reported he lamented South Africa’s adoption of a lopsided attitude towards the Israel-Palestinian conflict and said it would have greater influence if it displayed a more balanced approach.
In a statement issued on Thursday, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said Mogoeng had entered the arena of political commentary which might make him vulnerable should he adjudicate a human rights matter in the future.
“It was rather unfortunate for the Chief Justice to state that the ‘South African government policy was binding upon himself and that he was not seeking to reject it’, but then clearly and openly opposes it as a citizen.”
Mabe added the ANC had respect for the independence of the judiciary, saying the party had expressed the contemporary State of Israel was an apartheid state.
“We support human rights and we stand with the oppressed Palestinians who include Christians of the Holy Land as well as the residents of Jerusalem and Bethlehem who are living under Israeli apartheid.”
Mabe said in its 53rd national conference, the ANC had expressed its support for the Palestinian people.
The party had also taken a resolution the Palestinians were the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel, he added.
“The Chief Justice is indeed a citizen, but he is the primary protector of the Constitution of SA and if the government was in violation of the Bill of Rights he and the Bench must defend the Constitution above all else and any other consideration, for this reason, his disagreement with the policy of the government is of grave concern where the main argument of the policy on Palestine is premised on human rights.
“The Chief Justice can question any policy but the context should give consideration to the station in life he now occupies.”
Meanwhile, the human rights organisation #Africa4Palestine said in statement that it will lay a complaint with the Judicial Service Commission against Mogoeng’s comments.
It said it was in the process of consulting with its legal advisors following the Chief Justice’s criticism of South Africa’s foreign policy and the country’s support for freedom and justice of the Palestinian people.
“It is regrettable that the Chief Justice has publicly entered the Israeli-Palestinian issue on the side of the oppressors – the Israeli regime.
“We are particularly concerned since there is a current matter in front of the Constitutional Court between COSATU and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, involving the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
“The Chief Justice having participated in such an overtly political event hosted by the Jerusalem Post and the Chief Rabbi, when this matter is in front of his court, is considered improper at worst or highly questionable in the very least,” it said.
– News24 Wire