Zuma to attend to Mogoeng's request following Brics summit

President Jacob Zuma says he will attend to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's request to meet with him regarding attacks on the judiciary. (Reuters)

President Jacob Zuma says he will attend to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's request to meet with him regarding attacks on the judiciary. (Reuters)

“The President will attend to the matter as soon as he returns from the Brics Summit in Ufa, in the Russian Federation,” the Presidency said.

“The President wishes to reassert his own commitment and that of the Executive to the independence of the Judiciary and its role as the final arbiter in all disputes in society, as well as to the further strengthening of the existing good working relations between the two arms of the State.”

The country’s top judges on Wednesday warned against “repeated and unfounded” criticism of the judiciary from government and called for a meeting between Mogoeng and Zuma.

“The Heads of Court and senior judges of all divisions have requested the Chief Justice, as head of the judiciary to meet with the head of state to point out and discuss the dangers of the repeated and unfounded criticism of the judiciary. Criticism of that kind has the potential to delegitimise the courts. Courts serve a public purpose and should not be undermined,” they said in a statement after a meeting at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Mogoeng said: “We hope to find a way for issues to be raised at that level ... Raise issues with the right powers and let them deal with it.”

Mogoeng said the judiciary was at a point of “self-introspection”, not one of crisis. He added that he could not predict the response from Zuma, but was confident that the president would reflect on the situation.

“Many people have criticised the judiciary and we just want to assure the nation that the judiciary remains committed to carrying out its constitutional mandate and certain issues are dealt with not to attack anyone. We reiterate principle, and we will not go blow-by-blow with any personality,” he said.

“One of the most important things we have done was to reiterate the critical role the law plays.”

Last month, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe criticised the judiciary for what he considered as its bias against the ruling party. Mantashe mentioned two courts in particular – the North Gauteng High Court and the Western Cape High Court – accusing their judges of being against government and the ANC. – ANA

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