Judges 'not ordered' to go to conference
Johannesburg - An e-mail reportedly ordering top judges to attend a leadership conference by a United States evangelist was not compulsory, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's office said on Friday.
"... At a meeting of the heads of courts in Johannesburg today [Friday]... the heads of courts present unanimously stated that they had not felt compelled to attend the conference," spokesperson Lulama Luti said in a statement.
She said they also distanced themselves from media allegations that they had been ordered to attend the John Maxwell leadership conference.
Rather, the judges concerned felt the course was offered as "an opportunity to enhance and strengthen their leadership capacity".
This was within an established tradition of offering leadership training and in-keeping with a resolution passed by the Access to Justice Conference last year, said Luti.
On Thursday, the Mail & Guardian Online reported that in an e-mail sent, on behalf of Mogoeng, to heads of court, the judges president and their deputies were "requested to be available" for an evangelical leadership conference in Kempton Park.
Mogoeng told the Business Day that he did not compel any judge to attend the course. He said the reports were doing a "disservice to our country" by taking things "out of context and to sensationalise".
According to the Mail & Guardian Online a legal academic, who did not want to be named, said the language used in the e-mail "was judicial language for 'you must go'".
The legal fraternity was reportedly astonished and outraged by the chief justice's order.
Luti told the newspaper that none of the justices invited had attended the conference.