Mogoeng: lawyers’ scathing assessment

2011-08-27 00:00

THE Johannesburg Bar Council has delivered a scathing rebuke to Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng’s nomination as chief justice, questioning his commitment to the Bill of Rights and judicial ethics.

The Bar Council’s response was obtained by Media24 Investigations yesterday shortly after it was submitted to the Judicial Service Commission, which is considering President Jacob Zuma’s controversial nominee.

The Judicial Service Commission will consider the Bar Council submission among others when it subjects Justice Mogoeng to a public interview to interrogate his suitability for the top judicial job.

This submission is the strongest criticism to emerge from his legal peers over his nomination.

The organisation sharply criticised Mogoeng for not removing himself from a case in which his wife was the prosecutor and said he should have informed the accused of his relationship.

The council criticised him for not giving reasons why he differed with his colleagues in the Constitutional Court who ruled that a person could not be defamed by being labelled a homosexual.

“His dissent indicates that he would, in fact, have found that it could be defamatory simply to refer to a person as being homosexual. If this is so, it would indicate a prejudicial attitude to members of the gay community ...” the submission said.

“… members have raised serious questions regarding [Justice Mogoeng’s] commitment to judicial ethics and to human rights,” it added.

They argued there is a perception that Judge Mogoeng is homophobic, strengthened by his membership and leadership role in the Winners Chapel International church, known to have conservative views towards gays. The council questioned his commitment to gender equality and referred to three of his decisions where he had reduced the sentences imposed on rapists.

“An examination of [Judge Mogoeng’s ] attitude to constitutional values indicates what may be fairly described as a conservative attitude to individual rights and liberties. In some instances he appears to have flouted the values of the Constitution and entrenched rights,” the council said.

• Civil society groups also plan to lodge objections to the nomination, based on Mogoeng’s rulings in the rape appeals.

The public interest organisation Section 27 planned to lodge an objection yesterday on behalf of the Treatment Action Campaign, the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project and the Sonke Gender Justice Network.

The Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre and the Women’s Legal Centre also plan to object.


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