Mogoeng unscathed after grilling

2011-09-04 22:34

Cape Town - The Judicial Services Commission will recommend to President Jacob Zuma that Mogoeng Mogoeng be the next chief justice, a commissioner told Sapa on Sunday.

The commissioner, speaking on condition of anonymity, said JSC members had voted in favour of Mogoeng who was interviewed on whether he was an appropriate choice for the job throughout Saturday and Sunday.

The JSC is still to comment.

Mogoeng was grilled by commissioners on his religious views, his lack of experience for the job and on his previous judgments.

He told the commission earlier on Sunday that God wanted him to be appointed to the position.

"Do you think God wants you to be appointed chief justice," Inkatha Freedom Party commissioner Koos van der Merwe asked.

"I think so," Mogoeng said.

"That creates problem for me," Van der Merwe said. "If I vote against you what is God going to do to me?"

"That is between you and God, commissioner," Mogoeng replied.

Mogoeng said he prayed and got a signal that "it was the right thing to do" after Zuma has nominated him for the position.

"I prayed and got a signal it was the right thing to do when I was approached," Mogoeng said.

"I am one of those believers who believe that there is God and God does speak.

"When a position comes like this one, I wouldn't take it unless I had prayed and satisfied myself that God wants me to take it.

"Without the God I depend on for strength, I am going to fail."


Commissioner Izak Smuts told Mogoeng that the "petulance" Mogoeng he had showed when he "lost his temper" with Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who chaired the interview, had raised questions about his suitability for the post.

"After your public display of petulance... what must this commission understand about the suitability of your temperament to lead not only the judiciary, but particularly the judiciary in Constitutional Court where you would deal with chief justice very closely," Smuts said.

On Saturday while explaining his decisions not to provide reasons for dissenting in a case involving a ruling on homosexuality, Mogoeng snapped at Moseneke, telling him there was "no need for sarcasm".

He later apologised for the remark.

"If you listen, you might be able to answer," said Moseneke.

"You don't have to be sarcastic, sir," retorted Mogoeng.

On Sunday Mogoeng defended his loss of temper.

"There is not a single human being who never loses his or her temper," he said.

"I am not God, I am a human being. It does happen that you don't realise your mistake until someone draws it to your attention.

"As soon as I recognised my wrongdoing, I did what I believe any human being who does not pretend to have a heart of stone had to do.

"You must be very careful not to overplay the weaknesses we all have as human beings."

'Strictly colleagues'

Mogoeng told the commission on Sunday that he and Moseneke related "strictly as colleagues".

"We have never developed a friendship or anything of the kind, he said.

"I look up to him as an older brother rather than someone I would look to as friend."

Mogoeng said he had admired Moseneke since he was "a young boy".

"He is a man I have lived to admire. I remember when he was the deputy president of the PAC [Pan Africanist Congress]. I met him at Atteridgeville Stadium.

"I have always admired his courage, particularly with his detention on Robben Island."

Moseneke had been seen by a number of legal bars and judges as a favourite for the chief justice post.

He however, declined to be nominated for the post.


Mogoeng said during his interview that he had "no relationship whatsoever" with Zuma.

He said he had once been invited to private meeting with Zuma and his position was "what harm does it do".

"We spent about three hours, three-and-a-half hours together.

"He did not take my numbers. I did not take his.

"I have no relationship whatsoever with president Jacob Zuma."

The last time they met was the president's official residence when Zuma asked him to accept the nomination.

Mogoeng defended his "intellectual depth".

"I have no doubt about my own intellectual depth," he said after being asked why he had not written any legal articles as other judges had.

He said he did not have a "passion for writing" and that he had always had a problem with colleagues who used words "you had to look up in a dictionary to understand".


Mogoeng also defended himself against question on judgments he had given in rape cases.

He said he had dealt with many rape cases and that there were "people who are so brutal to women and children, they literally tear them apart mercilessly".

"I have seen worst you can imagine in many cases," he said after being asked about a reference he had made to "minor injuries" suffered by a young girl when she was raped.

"They vary in degrees, that is all I am trying to put across. Some even die in the process."


Mogoeng defended his attitude towards "sexual orientation".

"It has been alleged that I am homophobic.

"This allegation rests primarily on three grounds, namely: the fact that I dissented from paragraphs 181 to 189 in the CC Judgment in Le Roux v Dey; the absence of my reasons for dissenting; and the attitude of my church, Winners Chapel International, on homosexuality.

"The Constitution guarantees every South African freedom of religion, belief and opinion. In the exercise of this right, I have fully embraced the Christian faith.

"I did and do so mindful of the fact that our Constitution was not meant to benefit Christians to the exclusion of all other people who either belong to other faiths or do not subscribe to any religion at all."

Mogoeng said his church's opposition to homosexuality was not "something peculiar to it", nor did the church have as its core value, the attitude that "homosexuality should not be practised, or is a deviant behaviour".

"It is based purely on the biblical injunction that a man should marry a woman and that there shall be a husband and a wife.

  • Marshall - 2011-09-04 23:35

    If only every person being vetted for a publicly responsible position was subjected to such intense scrutiny; we would surely see a reduction in incompetent officials.

      drenkeling - 2011-09-04 23:42

      Such intense scrutiny makes no diffirence - the wrong person still gets appointed.

      Netherlander - 2011-09-05 04:02

      When he SCREWS UP oneday, and believe me it WILL HAPPEN, he too can BLAME that illusive fellow, THE DEVIL!!!! Why would one appoint a Religous Fanatic to such a HIGH POST? FFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      saabnut - 2011-09-05 09:58

      Of course he's 'unscathed'- he's on Showerhead's gravy train...

  • marco - 2011-09-04 23:40

    South Africa needs its judiciary to underpin its social progress.In a country where abortion is legal,same-sex couples marry,a strong civil society and an independent judiciary lets hope this virtual unknown Mogoeng's nomination as chief justice don't undermine the country's reputation as the most liberal outpost in all of Africa.No society is static,least of all African societies. I wonder why Zuma has twice now overlooked Dikgang Moseneke,Sandile Ngcobo's long-serving deputy,for this position?Is it because he serves the people of South Africa rather than the ANC and the Zuma power clique?It seems Moseneke has the reputation for being fiercely independent and he is a former political prisoner as well.So why ditch him and nominate Mogoeng? Mogoeng is a lightweight compared with the other judges that make up the 11-person constitutional court.I guess South African democracy faces two connected fears:a social conservative backlash and a lapdog judiciary.Mogoeng is a bit of an idiot.As a prosecutor in the 1980s Bophuthatswana he was overzealous in advocating the now unconstitutional death penalty,in 2001 he ruled that a 2 year sentence imposed on a man who tied a woman to the bumper of his car and dragged her at high speed was "too harsh",in 2004 he reduced by half a man's sentence for raping his 8month pregnant wife because they were not strangers and in 2007 he suspended a two-year jail sentence against a man who had raped his wife saying he had been sexually aroused.

      B Rabbit - 2011-09-05 02:18

      Did you actually read the article? It said that Moseneke had declined a nomination for the post. As for your negative statements about his judgments, they seem without merit too, those cases sound extremely complicated.

      zaatheist - 2011-09-05 09:38

      A sad day for South Africa that a brain addled religious loon, who cannot distinguish fact from fable and is incapable of evaluating evidence, becomes chief justice.

      Tebza - 2011-09-05 10:41

      Marco why are you so bitter and oblivious of the facts. Moseneke was approched and declined. next candidate please? then it was mogoeng. All he is being screwed for is in the past and even you and I have things we might have done in the past that we might not be proud of today. Let us give the Guy a chance now as a Chief Justice and not judge his current status by what he used to be as a Judge. This is the new democratic hopeful country but you are all blaming the guy for things done prior 1994. It was then and this is now. Pls nominate your likable candidates and lets see if there wont be any negative thing tjhe media digs from the past. Even the President does wrong but he is still continuing. Pls explain how does a man rape his wife. its people like you who fail to understand diversity. we are different races with different cultural practices and beliefs. in most black cultures you marry a woman to have free unconditional sex with her, have children and she honours you as much as you work your whole life for her. in other cultures like yours, there is no such thing. your love life is conditional and ruled by piolicies. How can I rape the woman that I married? such stupid conditionalities that so many black young women are dying to adopt from the western folk and by just wearing a brown fake silk hair and think they are white women is killing our culture and thats why you see so many separations between young black couples.

  • Chris - 2011-09-05 07:00

    So Zuma has stormed the last bastion of sanity in the country and he emerges victorious. Will we now see a new struggle emerging with citizens being dictated to by the draconian new pieces of legislation to to ensure that the pillagers of the state coffers are not exposed?

  • tiotudg - 2011-09-05 07:32

    'God wants me to be chief justice' As Mogoeng Mogoeng eerlik is en hyt glo wat hy se^, en hy word aangestel, DAN vertrou ek hy doen sy geloof gestand en se^ vir Zuma en die ANC en die Kommuniste "SO Se^ DIE HERE, EN SO SAL JULLE MAAK, OF NIE MAAK NIE". Anders laste hy teen God in sy aanspraak dat God hom daar wil he^ - Ek sal vir hom bid.

  • RainbowZombi - 2011-09-05 08:02

    With Christain values as this I have to change my perception of Mr Mogoeng. We should not just be negative, of which I to am guilty. Every one has second chances. Lets be optomistic and ask God to bless him and give him the wisdom to judge wisely. May we not be wrong, as we do need values in our life again.

  • zulufox - 2011-09-05 08:45

    i wonder how many of you airheads would survive a 15-hour interview and come out of it smilling....

  • ColinG - 2011-09-05 09:12

    That's the problem with the likes of you @Netherlander. Your type loves to wait for people to fail. Your type rejoices when others fail. Maybe you are always like that, fine. But give this man a chance to do his job.

  • Salvation - 2011-09-05 09:27

    Currently claimed, our Law is apparently a Law of Restitution rather than one of retribution, yet to my limited capacity of calculation, for restitution to occur, degrees of retribution for the initial act has to be exercised. With that in mind, the future Chief Justice applicant stated in the hearing broadcast, that he has made errors in judgement and, being ethically correct, I am left wondering if he put restitution into place for those victims as, to my thinking, an honourabe man would do? As for the right person for the job, may the primary principle from the bible be applied, in line with the oath sworn 'So help me God', in any and all decisions - "Do unto others as You would others do unto you" and the reciprocal definitely being applied as per the precedent set by the initial act. The law has it's basis derived from the bible and is designed to be fair in that way so too should all the laws being applied: fair, reasonable and non-discriminating...

      daaivark - 2011-09-05 09:32

      "The law has it's basis derived from the bible"..... How on earth can you say that?

      zaatheist - 2011-09-05 09:41

      Picking morals from religion is like picking out food from the trash. Sure, you’ll find something edible, and maybe even tasty, but it’ll be tainted with the horrid smell of the rest of the junk. Why not just get your food fresh from nature where it came from in the first place.

      Salvation - 2011-09-05 10:16

      daaivark: seems to me one has as yet to understand the oath sworn in court: "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth SO HELP ME GOD". That in capitals clearly states the principles of the bible are SUPPOSED to be applied, that they are not is more evidence of the rot happening. zaatheist: Sadly there are some who think saying sorry is adequate recourse for their act/s. Restitution adequate should surely ONLY lie in the outcomes appropriate to the injury sustained by the victim and that is determined by the victim and no other. As for ethical correctness (morals) and not confused with professional priviledge, morals lie in the doing to another which may be realized one day when in reciprocation it gets done back to them, whatever it is.

  • grant9 - 2011-09-05 10:37

    I had my reservations about Mogoeng concrning some of his past judgements. Now that he about to become the chief justice however it is up to us Christians to pray that the Lord guides him. @zaatheist, I've lived in 3 countries over the last 50 odd years and have found Christians as a group to be the most moral. I was once taught that Christians who are in jail are there because for some reason they deviated fron biblical teachings.

  • Olebogeng - 2011-09-05 13:14

    The report that Moseneke declined nomination must be understood in context. He was overlooked, in fact he was never nominated. Its apparent the shear majority of ppl believe Moseneke should've been nominated. We must remember though that Mogoeng is a member of the constitutional court. He is no fool as media seem to want us to believe. Media just unfairly focus on his mistakes and overlook all the positive. I watched the interview and he conducted himself very well. He could turn out to be a good CJ anyway. The main problm is actually ANC overlooking a very deserving Moseneke. They are the ones to be blamed here, not Mogoeng. at the end of day Ppl must decide if they want to vote for a party that overlook the good of the country for benefit of their own party agendas.

  • Brenda Hare-Oostendurp - 2011-09-05 16:24

    I have the utmost respect for mogoeng mogoeng, to be interviewed for a solid two days and to remain calm throughout (except in one instance)and to answer so many questions and allegations without much hesitation must be brain draining and soul detroying to any human being. If there were to be a vote you would most definately get mine. I respect and admire you keep up the good work judge

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