PRESS STATEMENT: South Africa’s top judge found in breach of judicial code, and ordered to apologise within 10 days

04 March 2021

The human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation, #Africa4Palestine, welcomes today’s decision by South Africa’s Judicial Services Commission (JSC) that has found South Africa’s Chief Justice, Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng, in contravention of the Code of Judicial Conduct, for his pro-Israel comments made last year in June.

According to the JSC’s precedent-setting decision, Chief Justice Mogoeng is to, within ten (10) days, read out an apology and retraction “at a meeting of serving Justices of the Constitutional Court and release a copy thereof under his signature to the OCJ and to the media in the normal manner in which the Constitutional Court and the OCJ issue media releases.”

In the comprehensive 67-page decision, paragraph 243.2 outlines the wording of the apology and retraction that the Chief Justice is to issue:

“I, Mogoeng Mogoeng, Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa, hereby apologise unconditionally for becoming involved in political controversy through my utterances in the online seminar (webinar) hosted by The Jerusalem Post on 23 June 2020, in which I participated.

I further hereby unreservedly retract and withdraw the following statement which I uttered subsequent thereto or other words to the same effect: “I stand by my refusal to retract or apologise for any part of what I said during the webinar. Even if 50 million people were to march every day for 10 years for me to do so, I would not apologise. If I perish, I perish.”

I reaffirm my recognition for the statutory authority of the Judicial Conduct Committee of the Judicial Service Commission established in terms of Part 11 of the JSC Act 9 of 1994 to decide on any complaint of alleged judicial misconduct against me and all judges in the Republic of South Africa.” Click here for the full JSC decision. 

Today’s decision comes after #Africa4Palestine lodged a formal complaint with the JSC on the 4th of July 2020. Africa4Palestine was then joined by the Womens Cultural Group and BDS as second and third applicants. Deputy Judge President, Judge Phineas Mojapelo, was tasked to lead the process.

Today is a good day for the Palestinian cause but also for South Africa and our judiciary. Today’s JSC decision affirms that no one is above the law and we hope that it sets the standard for future judicial conduct.

#Africa4Palestine thanks our stellar legal team led by Advocate Ben Winks, Advocate Sheldon Magardie, Attorney Yasin Bham as well as a Senior Counsel Member from the Johannesburg Bar.

ISSUED BY TISETSO MAGAMA ON BEHALF OF #AFRICA4PALESTINE

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Spokesperson, Tisetso Magama: +27 (0) 61 4146348

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