Messages of support from Christian community handed to Office of Chief Justice

Vivienne Myburgh national director of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), South Africa branch hands over statements of support signed by more than 120 000 South Africans and more than 300 messages of support for Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to Allister Slingers of the office of the Chief Justice yesterday. Also in the picture are, from the left, Pastor Tom Mofokeng of Bridges For Peace and Bafana Modise of South African Friends of Israel

A petition started in July last year calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to support Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s right to express his Christian views on Israel has enjoyed a renewed surge of public support over the past week as South African Christians have responded to attempts to muzzle the nation’s top judge.

Since Thursday last week when the Judicial Conduct Committee ordered Mogoeng to retract and apologise for his remarks on Israel during a webinar last June more than 27 000 people have signed the petition, raising the tally of signatures to over 122 000 at the time of posting this report.

Yesterday, representatives of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ), Bridges For Peace, and South African Friends of Israel (SAFI), who jointly initiated the online petition, handed a statement of support signed by more than 120 000 South African Christians and more than 300 messages of support to the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand, Johannesburg.

Commenting on the public support for the petition statement, the organisations which initiated the petition say: “It [the petition] stands in opposition to groups that seek to censure and silence Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on his remarks about his biblical love for Israel alongside the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The judiciary should not bow before a coordinated attack on judges by marginal anti-Israel voices.

“The Chief Justice’s remarks are legitimate, fair and non-controversial. They were made in accordance with his deeply held religious beliefs which are protected under the South African Constitution, as well as alongside the Judicial Code which regulates judicial conduct. They are a reflection of the faith of millions of ordinary South Africans.”

Prayer vigils
Prayer vigils in support of the Chief Justice will take place tomorrow (Friday March 12) at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg at 11am and at Parliament, Cape Town at 12pm, say the petition hosts in a statement. Covid protocols will be observed at the vigils.

In a statement released yesterday, the ICEJ SA criticises the JCC’s attempt to silence Mogoeng and remove his constitutional right of freedom of expression.

“Freedom of belief and freedom of speech have come under threat and it is imperative that all freedom-loving South Africans speak out against this type of institutional cancel culture.

“We fully support the right of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to express his Christian convictions and support for peace in the Holy Land and we denounce those who are mischievously misinterpreting his message towards their hateful agenda.

“His message has been one of love for all people caught up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His message has been balanced and entirely fair. His message has been one of hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and his expressed desire to see our country, South Africa, play a mediating role in achieving this peace is something we fully support,” says ICEJ.

Should be applauded
The ICEJ also says Mogoeng should be applauded for his impartial and unprejudiced stance.

“The fact that a call to prayer and support for Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East and one who is being increasingly embraced by many of her Arab neighbours, who desire to cooperate with her in greater measure on many levels, is despised by certain segments of our
society, is concerning.

“When these elements are given a measure of legitimacy by various
governmental agencies then it is extremely concerning. The fact that elements in the South African government can support entities like Hamas, an internationally recognised terror organisation and even host their leaders in our country, and not allow prayer and support for a
legitimate, internationally accepted nation such as Israel is double standards and hypocrisy of the highest level.

“Israel has offered to help SA on various levels such as water, agricultural and medical solutions to name a few and each time her offers are spurned. Clearly the interests of our people who would benefit greatly are not a priority to the government of the day!

“The remarks that our Chief Justice made were legitimate and in no way controversial. It is therefore regrettable that some have chosen to twist events in an antagonistic manner and create a storm that has no substance to it. This kind of calumny actually exacerbates divisions and increases religious and social tensions both at home and in Israel. It does not promote
peace.

“The ICEJ stands firmly in support of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and fully supports his message of love, hope and peace. We demand that as South Africans, our freedoms of religion, speech and expression remain protected and in place under our Constitution,” says the statement.

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