- Retired Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron says Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng will always express his views.
- Cameron was speaking during a webinar hosted by the University of Johannesburg.
- This follows criticism of the Chief Justice by several organisations for comments he made on Israel in June.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is a strong-minded person who will always express his views, retired Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron has said.
Speaking during a webinar hosted by the University of Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon, Cameron was asked about his views on what a sitting judge is allowed to say in public.
Responding, Cameron said: "I am going to name names, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, he was appointed chief justice in 2011 and without him and [former] Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, I am not sure that we would still have a constitutional democracy."
He said it was that same "wilful, strong headed and committed to principle" on the part of Mogoeng and Moseneke that "saw us" through some of its worst times and established the judiciary.
"I think Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is a strong-minded person who will always express his views," he said.
Mogoeng had been criticised by several organisations and high-ranking officials, including International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, over comments he made on Israel.
The Jerusalem Post last month reported that Mogoeng lamented South Africa's adoption of a lopsided attitude towards the Israel-Palestinian conflict and said it would have greater influence if it displayed a more balanced approach.
Following his utterances, several organisations wanted him to withdraw his remarks and apologise to all South Africans.
Sections of the Christian community came out in defence of the Chief Justice.
However, subsequently speaking at a virtual Africa prayer meeting, Mogoeng said: "Even if 50 million people can march every day for the next 10 years for me to retract or apologise for what I said, I will not do it. I will never say I hate anybody, or any nation. I will never. I love everybody. I love Israel, I love the Jews, I love Palestinians..."
"I said in that webinar, those that are busy plotting against me right now, even to kill me, those that will plot to even to destroy and kill me in 10 years' time, they are already forgiven. I meant it.
"Everybody who is insulting me, everybody who is lying about me, whether Christian or not Christian, I love you and I forgive you. May God have mercy on you. May... reveal the truth to you.
"So, there will, therefore, be no retraction, there is nothing to retract. There will be no apology. Not even this political apology that 'in case I have offended anybody without meaning to offend them for that reason…'. I will not apologise for anything.
"There is nothing to apologise for, there is nothing to retract.
"I can't apologise for loving, I can't apologise for not harbouring hatred, I will not. If I perish, I perish. Like Esther said, 'If I perish, I perish. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will sustain me,'" Mogoeng said at the time, in response to the criticism.