Former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng apologises over controversial Israel statements

Former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has issued a formal public apology over his controversial comments about South Africa’s foreign policy towards Israel.

Mogoeng made the remarks at an online seminar hosted by The Jerusalem Post in 2020  while still serving his term as the head South Africa’s judiciary and was ordered to apologise last month by the judicial conduct committee’s appeal panel.

Mogoeng, who had generated controversy throughout his term over his fundamentalist Christian views, had been found guilty of involving the judiciary in a political controversy and of participating in an extra-judicial activity that had the potential to damage the confidence of the public in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.

His appeal on these charges failed, but he succeeded in having several additional counts — including that he apologise in the presence of his fellow judges and the media — set aside.

In his letter of apology, Mogoeng noted that he had been informed of the outcome of the appeal  “just before dawn on the 666 day of the lockdown in our land” and that he was “”very thankful that: I have not been ordered to renounce God the Father, God

the Son and God the Holy Spirit and my faith in Him.”

Mogoeng said that he “loved” both the people of Israel and those of Palestine and that he retained the view that it would be wrong for him to hate Israel.

Mogoeng said he had previously refused to retract his comments or apologise “unless forced by the law”. 

“I am now forced by the law — the order of the lawfully constituted appeal panel of the judicial conduct committee — to apologise unconditionally in terms of the prescribed apology. And because I am not above the law, I hereby apologise as ordered,” he wrote in his letter of apology.

“I, Mogoeng Mogoeng, the former chief justice of the Republic of South Africa, hereby apologise unconditionally for becoming involved in political controversy through my utterances at the online seminar (webinar) hosted by The Jerusalem Post on 23 June 2020, in which I participated,” Mogoeng concluded.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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