Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng did nothing wrong from a biblical, constitutional or political point of view when he spoke about Israel during a webinar last June, said ACDP president Rev Kenneth Meshoe today.
“That is why we are convinced he is going to win his appeal,” he said in a telephonic interview with Gateway News from a picket in front of the Constitutional Court.
He said more than 200 people — including members of Deisi International, the ACDP and South African Friends of Israel — attended the picket in support of Mogoeng’s appeal against an order by the Judicial Conduct Committee that he withdraw the remarks he made in the webinar hosted by The Jerusalem Post newspaper.
Meshoe said but for Covid-19 restrictions, more people would have attended.
He said it was significant that they were holding the picket on Human Rights Day, on Constitutional Hill in front of the Constitutional Court.
“Because section 15 of the Constitution says everyone — everyone without exception, which includes the Chief Justice — has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion,” he said.
He said if the appeal is not successful “we want the matter to be brought here — before a full bench of the Constitutional Court so that they can tell the public which constitutional provision has been violated — because without that he cannot be convicted”.
“If people don’t want the judges and the Chief Justice in particular to make.
religious pronouncements then they must clearly state so — either in the law passed in the South African Parliament or in the Constitution.
“But because there is no law that says he [Mogoeng] must not do it, he has the right.
“Some people are saying he violated the Judicial Code of Conduct. I went through the code. Nowhere does it say you cannot express your religious opinion,” he said.
Responding to the JCC finding by Judge Phineas Mojapelo that Mogoeng had transgressed the code by “becoming involved in political controversy” he said the Chief Justice had expressed a biblical position when he said he loved the Jews and the Palestinians and was required to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
“It’s not a political position for anybody to say “pray for the peace of Jerusalem’, that is a biblical position. They [the JCC] are the ones trying to bring politics into what the Bible says.”
Asked what they hoped to achieve through today’s picket, he said: “It is important that judge Mojapelo and the committee that he was with should know that South Africans love Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and that we support him in his appeal.
“We challenge that committee to show us the law that he violated. They need to respond and because they cannot show any constitutional provision that has been violated, or South Africa law that has been violated, they need to rethink their position.
“They made a mistake — maybe because of pressure from the Palestinian group [whose complaint led to the JCC investigation of Mogoeng’s webinar remarks].”
Meshoe noted that previously certain judges have spoken openly in favour of Palestine “and nobody complained”.
“We will have another protest if they find him guilty. They must charge those judges [who previously spoke out in favour of Palestine],” he sad.
Meshoe said the order against Mogoeng had wider implications than the Chief Justice himself.
He recalled that during the drafting of the South African Constitution, when there was talk about outlawing all forms of discrimination, including religious discrimination, he asked if a person who said, based on John 14:6, that “Jesus is the only way” would be guilty of discrimination.
“And they said without a doubt that would be discrimination against other religions.
“So we know that if we keep quiet on this one [the order against Chief Justice Mogoeng] they will go after John 14:6,” said Meshoe.
See video clip from this morning’s picket:
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