Mogoeng to critics: Hamba kahle

2012-10-27 20:02

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has launched a blistering attack on “rich and powerful” critics of the judiciary in opposition parties and in the media.

In a fiery speech delivered at a retirement function for Gauteng Judge President Bernard Ngoepe on Friday, Mogoeng said judicial independence would be “limping” if it only meant independence from the ANC.

And in an apparent defence of beleaguered Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, Mogoeng asked how many judges “can withstand sustained attacks occasionally coupled with threats of impeachment”.

He praised Ngoepe for his “fierce” independence.

The Chief Justice, who was himself subjected to a rigorous interviewing process, warned judges against being fearful of “what vocal and well-resourced opposition party leaders can do to you, what resources and forces the rich and powerful can mobilise against you, and what ridicule, recycled criticism and misinformation campaigns the media and others could subject you to”.

The Constitutional Court recently ruled on a case brought by the DA concerning the appointment of former prosecutions boss Menzi Simelane.

The party is also challenging the decision to drop corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.

“If for fear of being labelled pro-executive or conservative you feel intimidated into toeing a particular line so that you can earn the categorisation of progressiveness, whatever it means these days, then you are not independent,” he said.

Mogoeng warned those who were “in the habit of vitriolic attacks against judicial officers”, but who were also the first to jump to their defence amid criticism by others, to be “very careful” about how they criticised judges.

Deviating from his written speech, he said those critics must just “hamba kahle” (tread carefully).

He said that Ngoepe had never “manifested symptoms of what I call approval addiction”.

Mogoeng’s speech came on the back of one he made earlier in the day, in which he defended the right of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to recommend whoever it saw fit.

Mogoeng is chairperson of the JSC.

He said “no analyst, no pressure group, no organisation, no politician and no media group should labour under the impression that we are capable of being pressurised or intimidated into appointing their preferred candidates”.

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