Mogoeng unscathed after grilling

2011-09-04 22:34
Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng (Nasief Manie, Die Burger)

Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng (Nasief Manie, Die Burger)

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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.

Read more on:    jsc  |  mogoeng mogoeng  |  koos van der merwe  |  jacob zuma  |  dikgang moseneke  |  cape town  |  judiciary

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