Don't threaten judiciary - Chief Justice

2012-07-28 18:59

Durban - Anybody who went beyond talk or criticism to actually threaten the judiciary's independence would definitely be confronted, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng told a meeting of editors in Durban on Saturday.

"Every South African who is aggrieved about something has the right to say what he wants... that's also politicians... but I will not hesitate to confront anybody who actually does something that poses a threat to the independence of the judiciary," he said.

Mogoeng was addressing a council meeting of the SA Editors' Forum.

He was asked if, given statements by some politicians that the judiciary was being used to undermine the government, he felt there were any threats, now or potentially, to the independence of judges.

"I will not respond every time somebody says something... but if that person does something, I'll rise up to confront him."

The Chief Justice said he did not at the moment see any threats to the independence of South Africa's judiciary.

"But if we ever get to the point where our judges are pressured never to go a particular way in decisions for fear of threats, or death threats, or cartoons, whatever... Then the judiciary is under threat."

The duty of judicial officers was to dispense and uphold justice in accordance with the requirements of the constitution and their oath required them to do so without fear or favour.

Earlier, the Chief Justice, whose appointment last September was strongly criticised by commentators in the media, said he would be "forever grateful" to the media for the extent of the criticism of him.

It had shown him something he did not believe he had the capacity for - to thrive under pressure and "to stay focused on what I have been privileged to have been appointed to do".

"Keep on writing, .. it is good. People must have the space to express themselves as strongly as they wish to.

"I have the capacity to absorb just about anything, but spare the magistrates and the judges ...

"We do not need judicial officers that decide cases based on what they have seen happen to colleagues in terms of media criticism," Mogoeng said, adding that it was critical the media take care it got the facts correct.

  • John - 2012-07-28 19:28

    OUR SERVANT Zuma down to the lowliest cleaner public SERVANT are not to undermine or threaten OUR judiciary. The judiciary are the only control WE the PEOPLE have over the ignorant AUTOCRATIC and, who they believe are an AUTOCRATIC body. NEVER allow the SERVANT government to interfere with OUR judiciary.

  • J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-07-28 20:23

    The pith of these remarks: The threat to judges is "from death threats, cartoons or whatever." And .. deciding cases on "what they have seen happen to colleagues in terms of media criticism." Asked if there was any threat to the independence of judges, given certain recent political statements: no comment.

      fourhundredkg.bobbejaan - 2012-07-29 00:33

      It seems old Moegoe Moegoe is scared of cartoons. Zap him Zapiro!

  • Lacrimose - 2012-07-28 21:51

    Well we'd just like to see ALL citizens, regardless of their race, creed, membership, struggle credentials (real, imagined or inherited), to be SUBJECT to the laws of this country. After all, it's one of the cornerstones of our Constitution - all are equal under the law.

  • Vince.York - 2012-07-29 10:47

    Will CJ Mogoeng Mogoeng see strategically bused in massed crowds threatening all in the vicinity in and around courts or art galleries or legal marches even to bringing schools to a standstill, and swirling around with guns, bricks, stones, circumcision remnants and images of guns, chanting threats and insults and threatening death to individuals as NORMAL POPULAR SUPPORT OF HIS PERCEIVED MASTER or a real threat to justice? it is as easy as a 'wink' of an eyelid as born out in the following shocker:-

  • louise.cook.127 - 2012-07-29 13:54

    It is INDEED critical that facts are correctly published before office bearers, particularly judges, magistrates and the chief justice are critized. Constructive criticism and questions such as the Chief Justice possibily having favoured Christian-oriented training rather than neutral traning of Justive depart officials, showed the media did its job well. Those are important questions in our democracy.

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