The Africa4Palestine human rights organisation says it will lay a Judicial Service Commission (JSC) complaint against Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng over his recent comments “in support of the Israeli apartheid regime.”
In a statement on Thursday, Africa4Palestine’s Director Mohamed Desai said the organisation was consulting its legal team on the matter.
He added, “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.”
Africa4Palestine, formerly known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS SA), was reacting to comments Mogoeng made during a special webinar with Jerusalem Post published on Tuesday this week.
While emphasising that he was speaking in a personal capacity as a citizen and not as Chief justice, Mogoeng appeared to criticise the government’s official policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He said, “As a citizen of our great country, we are denying ourselves a wonderful opportunity of being a game-changer in the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
“We know what it means to be at logger heads, a nation at war with itself. The forgiveness that was demonstrated, the understanding and big heart displayed by President Nelson Mandela and we, the people of South Africa, is an asset we must use around the world to bring peace when there is no peace and to mediate effectively based on rich experience.”
Mogoeng further questioned whether South Africa has “cut diplomatic ties with our colonisers” or not. He was seemingly referring to the government’s decision to downgrade its ties with Israel in 2018.
ANC, EFF react
The African National Congress (ANC) also criticised Mogoeng’s comments in a statement issued by spokesperson Pule Mabe on Thursday.
Mabe said, “The Chief Justice is indeed a citizen, but he is the primary protector of the Constitution of SA and if the government were 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 ANC respects the Office of the Chief Justice and we urge the Speaker of Parliament to have high level talks with the Chief Justice regarding his political commentary.”
On Friday, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also said Mogoeng’s comments were an “attempt to delegitimise the international human rights movement” that aims to isolate Israel until it ends its “illegal occupation” of Palestine.