The Citizen (KZN)

Chief justice is out of order

The person holding the highest legal position in the country thinks he can introduce his religious fanaticism and mask it as freedom of expression or choice.

- Sydney Majoko

Back in 2011, when Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was interviewe­d by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) chaired by Justice Dikgang Moseneke for the highest legal post in the land, there were plenty of red flags that some of his answers raised, especially with regards to his religious leanings.

Besides his obvious bias against homosexual­s, it had come to the fore that he had on three occasions reduced the sentences of those convicted of rape.

Why bring all this up now? It is worth rememberin­g that the president of the country at the time was Jacob Zuma and he nominated Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ahead of some judges who had much more than two years’ experience in the Constituti­onal Court. The most notable judge to be overlooked was Moseneke.

These issues need to be pointed out because in Mogoeng South Africa did not get the best legal brain or leader available at the time – and that shows now.

Mogoeng’s recent prayer against a “666” vaccine amid the much-anticipate­d introducti­on of vaccines against Covid-19 should not have surprised South Africans. It is the calibre of the candidate they got from the JSC, which was very politicall­y loaded in 2011. It was almost impossible for an alternativ­e outcome in which the JSC did not recommend Mogoeng for the appointmen­t.

Mogoeng and those defending his flawed religious views on Covid-19 vaccines, have been at pains to convince everyone of the chief justice’s freedom of choice and expression.

Mogoeng, who has bullishly defended his right not to “hide” the fact that he is a Christian, as though that was ever under attack, has demonstrat­ed the lack of foresight that some feared he would when he was appointed.

Nine years in office have done very little to deepen his appreciati­on of the power of the office he holds.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a high court judge to know that freedom of expression is not always absolute. In fact, the higher the public office a person holds, the more circumspec­t they must be about the views they put out in public.

Covid-19 has already claimed more than a million lives worldwide. With SA going through a second wave of infections, now is hardly the time for a chief justice to lend his voice to extreme groupings or religious fanatics who want to sow confusion about discredite­d theories of vaccines being prepared to control the world.

Mogoeng has a right to pray like any other South African on any platform. What he doesn’t have a right to do is add to the misinforma­tion around Covid-19 through public prayer.

Attempts have been made to gloss over this blatant abuse of freedom of expression and make it seen as a plea for the freedom of choice for those who might chose not to vaccinate.

Minority groups throughout the world have been against vaccines of all kinds. This is not new. What is new is that the person holding the highest legal position in the country thinks he can introduce his religious fanaticism and mask it as freedom of expression or choice.

The chief justice must be called to order, not only for his sake but for the sake of those who hold his position in the future.

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