Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has paid a glowing tribute to retired chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, saying he led the judiciary with distinction, humility and integrity.
Mogoeng’s term of office as head of the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) came to an end on Monday. He completed 12 years as a justice of the apex court and in September he completed 10 years as chief justice.
‘Guardian of the Constitution’
Zondo said under Mogoeng’s stewardship, the judiciary – as an arm of state – took strides to vigorously protect
its independence and prove itself as the guardian of the Constitution.
“Through his outstanding leadership, chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng greatly enhanced the standing of the judiciary in our country,” Zondo said in a statement.
He said the former chief justice had served during some of the most difficult times in South Africa’s constitutional democracy, and was able to lead the judiciary with courage, integrity and wisdom.
“Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng began his term of office at a time when many people doubted whether he was the right person for the job and yet it did not take him long to prove that, indeed, he was up to the challenges of the job.
“In no time, he won over many of those who had expressed doubt about whether he would be able to do the job.”
Mogoeng was a very popular chief justice
During his term of office, Mogoeng was a very popular chief justice, Zondo said, adding that he often spoke strongly against corruption in both the public and private sectors, and emphasised the need for ethical leadership in both spheres.
Zondo also listed some of Mogoeng’s achievements while in office, which included initiating the Annual Judiciary Report in which the country’s judiciary accounts to the public for its performance of its judicial functions.
“Apart from these achievements, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng also made a huge contribution to our jurisprudence and wrote some of the most important judgments that have helped to strengthen and promote the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
“In this regard, the people of South Africa will not forget his judgment in the Nkandla matter, his secret ballot judgment in regard to the vote of no confidence in Parliament and his Sars [South African Revenue Service] judgment on racism and many others.”
Zondo also thanked Mogoeng’s wife and family for supporting during his tenure and allowing him to devote as much time as he did to the service of the country.
“On behalf of my colleagues in the Constitutional Court and on behalf of the entire judiciary in this country, I take this opportunity to thank Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for his excellent service to the judiciary and to the people of South Africa.”
Next chief justice?
Zondo is currently part of a cohort of nominees from which South Africa’s next chief justice will be picked.
Other nominees include Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) President Mandisa Maya, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, advocate Alan Nelson and Dr Wallace Amos Mgoqi.
South Africans have until 15 October (Friday) to submit in writing any objections they may have regarding the nominees for the position. A shortlist of three to five names will then be submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa for consideration by 29 October.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe