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 Society · Discrimination · Politics · Justice · Human Rights · Law · Mogoeng Mogoeng · Dikgang Moseneke · Jacob Zuma · South Africa

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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