Despite ongoing criticism of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s recent prayer at the Tembisa Hospital, a special Zoom meeting was hosted by the Healing Campaign on Monday to honour Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng for his courageous leadership — especially for not compromising on his Christian beliefs.
Mogoeng has been under fire from critics at home and abroad since the Tembisa Hospital special meeting last week, organised to honour healthcare professionals who have been at the forefront of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
At that meeting Mogoeng praised healthcare professionals for their selflessness as they risk their lives constantly while attending to patients who suffer all manner of illnesses. He ended his speech with a prayer for South Africa — praying against more suffering in the nation due to the second wave of the virus. He refused to accept our current state of living due to Covid-19 as a “new normal”, but called it “an abnormality”.
He also prayed against corrupt leaders who enriched themselves at the expense of others. But it was the part of his prayer about vaccines that caused a stir, in which he said: “If there be any vaccine that is the work of the devil, meant to infuse 666 in the lives of the people, meant to corrupt their DNA … may it be destroyed by fire.”
At a scheduled media briefing on the state of the judiciary the next day Mogoeng defended his prayer under questioning and refused to make any apology for his comments.
While criticism of Mogoeng continued to arise from across the world, a virtual meeting on Monday evening to honour the Chief Justice was attended by people from across the nation and the continent, and tributes kept pouring in throughout the meeting.
Speakers on the meeting programme included Apostle Linda Gobodo, founder of Vuka Africa Foundation, Laurette Mkati, a Scottish missionary who has been in South Africa for more than 30 years, and Apostle Joseph Sithole, who is based in Polokwane. Other meeting attendees were also invited to speak. Among those who took up this opportunity were Dr Robin Stephenson, who shared a few words and prayed for Mogoeng from Psalm 2, and Advocate Molly Malete, who worked with Mogoeng years before he became Chief Justice.
Attendees from African nations who shared messages of support and prayers for Mogoeng were Dr Abu Bako from Ghana, Rabbi Lombe Lusale from Zambia and Apostle Ofodile Nzimiro from Nigeria. Also on the platform were people from Botswana, Zimbabwe and even senior government officials of a number of SADC nations.
In a message sent in, the staff of Ichthus Christian School in Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal said: “We dearly want you to know that we support and pray for you. We also want to thank you for practising Eph 6:10 – 18. In a world where Truth is so often exchanged for lies and deception, we look up to you for standing firm on the Truth, being strong in the Lord and drawing your strength from Him.
“Above all, we honour God for His grace upon you and His Truth in your heart. Our trust is in Jesus, who is able to keep you without stumbling and to present you blameless and faultless before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation.”
Chief Justice Mogoeng expressed his appreciation for the meeting to honour him, and encouraged everybody to be selfless and not seek positions, power or money but to to serve with pure hearts and sincerity – essentially reminding them to do everything as unto the Lord, who is a rewarder.
While the storm over Mogoeng’s prayer against potential evil vaccines is far from over, it is clear that his voice has risen beyond South Africa to platforms where the Covid-19 pandemic is being discussed. Government leaders of many nations have embraced and almost accepted that Covid-19 will continue to bring death and destruction. But Mogoeng has openly refused to accept this, calling on God to destroy the plague.
The present uproar over Mogoeng’s prayer is not the first time he has come under fire this year. In June, after he participated with Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein in a webinar hosted by the Jerusalem Post he was criticised for showing support for Israel and undermining the position of the SA government. In that webinar he declared that he loved Israel, loved the Palestinians and loved everybody. Afterwards a formal complaint was laid against him with the Judicial Service Commission’s Conduct Committee, however it was found that the complaint didn’t warrant his impeachment.
When he was nominated for the position of Chief Justice in 2011 he came under heavy media scrutiny. Some labelled him President Zuma’s puppet while others called him the least experienced candidate. He was unashamed even at that time to speak openly about His faith and tell the JSC that God wanted him to be Chief Justice. While he was heavily criticised and mocked by others for those words, it didn’t stop the prophecy from being fulfilled: he ultimately became Chief Justice, and is today the longest-serving Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa.
The judiciary under Mogoeng’s leadership has often been the last line of defence against corrupt practices of public officials, and has been described by commentators — including opposition party leaders such as Julius Malema and Bantu Holomisa — as the only functional arm of the state, in contrast to the condition of the executive and parliament.
It is in reflecting on such a journey that it was fitting that the Church paused, to acknowledge that, indeed, Mogoeng has done more than his job as required by the Constitution of South Africa. He has also stood for the advancement of God’s Kingdom on earth – which is justice and righteousness.