'I am not in the judiciary to be a celebrity' - Chief Justice Mogoeng warns judges against being captured

2019-01-30 19:07
Chief Justice Mogoeng. (Jabu Kumalo, Netwerk24)

Chief Justice Mogoeng. (Jabu Kumalo, Netwerk24)

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South Africa's most senior judge - Chief Justice Mogoeng – has warned his colleagues against allowing themselves to be captured, saying "I am not in the judiciary to be a celebrity".

Instead, he is there "to make very unpopular decisions" and criticisms of his approach to a case do not matter to him, he said.

"I caution colleagues in the judiciary to be careful in being lured by manipulative praises from politicians, analysts or the media... If you are not careful as a judge, and position yourself for praises, you will be allowing yourself to be captured."

He was speaking at the Executive Bureau of the 10th annual Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa (CCJA) in Midrand on Wednesday, which he chairs.

Mogoeng encouraged the judiciary to remain independent, including member states of the CCJA.

He said he would keep an eye on the inquiries which were under way, particularly the state capture commission of inquiry.

As far as he was concerned, members of the judiciary have not been implicated, he said. However, he warned that he would not hesitate to act if that should change.

READ: 'Reasonable and moderate chastisement' is not abuse, ConCourt hears in 'spanking' case

The CCJA convened to discuss its programme of action for 2019, as well as constitutional developments in various member countries.

Fielding questions from journalists about the state of Zimbabwe's constitutional independence amid violence in that country, Mogoeng said he was not aware of any elements which suggested that the country's judiciary was questionable or that it was not independent.

"All I know is that there was something demonstrative about the independence or effectiveness of the country's judiciary recently when a person was arrested, and the court released the person”.

Armed Zimbabwean police arrested pastor activist Evan Mawarire at his home for incitement charges.

Mawarire was released on bail on Tuesday after being detained for 13 days.

Nationwide demonstrations erupted in Zimbabwe after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that fuel prices were being doubled.

At least 12 people died in the ensuing crackdown in which security forces said they arrested more than 1 100 individuals, including leading trade unionists, opposition Movement for Democratic Change lawmakers and senior figures.

Judiciary bodies should remain independent

Mogoeng has also shared concerns about the state of the Nigerian judiciary amid its preparations for general elections in February.

Nigeria is not a CCJA member.

He said there were two CCJA attempts to have Nigeria subscribe to it.

"We are concerned that there is apparent instability that affects the judiciary of Nigeria."

His comments come after the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, was accused of six counts of false asset declarations.

He appeared before the country's Code of Conduct Tribunal two weeks ago.

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Read more on:    mogoeng ­mogoeng  |  state capture inquiry  |  judiciary
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