Christians criticise ‘onslaught’ against chief justice

  • MogoengMogoeng1
Religious Christian communities across South Africa have declared their unwavering support for Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s right to express his religious convictions.
by JORDAN MOSHE | Jul 09, 2020

They join an increasing groundswell of voices that have defended South Africa’s unapologetic chief justice in the days following his comments in support of Israel.

“We are connected to Israel in so many ways, and salute the chief justice and pray for him,” said Capetonian pastor Barry Isaacs in a virtual march organised by South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) and held in support of Mogoeng on Friday. “He has been faced with an onslaught from government, and we have decided we won’t be silenced and will not allow this to happen. The time has come for Christians to stand up, and speak out.

“Mogoeng has not violated the Constitution in any way, but I think the government has.”

Beyond the criticism of the African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters, pro-Palestinian group #Africa4Palestine has submitted an official complaint to South Africa’s Judicial Services Commission (JSC) against the chief justice for what it calls his “Israeli utterances”.

The complaint was drafted by a senior legal team including advocate Ben Winks, advocate Sheldon Magardie, attorney Yasin Bham, and additional senior counsel from the Johannesburg Bar.

Their submission argues that Mogoeng has committed “wilful or grossly negligent breaches of the code of judicial conduct” in that he has become involved in political controversy. It says further that he has failed to recuse himself from the ongoing case of Bongani Masuku, a hate-speech matter involving the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, stating there is “reasonable suspicion” of bias.

The submission also suggests that the chief justice has otherwise behaved in a manner “incompatible with or unbecoming of the holding of judicial office”.

#Africa4Palestine maintains that Mogoeng has shown himself to be biased and in solidarity with “Zionists and Zionism”, and demands that he recuse himself from the ongoing Masuku case. If his conduct is found to be improper, the organisation requests that the JSC “send an unequivocal message, both to other judges and the public, that such conduct is unacceptable”.

In spite of censure from government and the legal submission against him, Mogoeng remains unrepentant over his expressions, and has refused to retract any of his comments or issue any apology.

“I will not reject my G-d,” he said in an online prayer conference held on Friday. “I will not apologise for believing in my G-d. I will not apologise for being a Christian. I will not apologise for prayer. I will not apologise for holding on to the word of G-d. I will never.

“Even if 50 million people can march every day for the next 10 years, for me to retract and apologise for what I said, I will not do it.”

Mogoeng stressed that he harbours no hate for anyone, and has only love for Jews and Palestinians alike. “I love everybody,” he said. “I love Israel. I love the Jews. I love Palestine. I love the Palestinians. I love everyone, and don’t hate anybody. I am commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

“People who want to tell me what to pray for – how can you condemn me for asking G-d for peace?”

The chief justice even extended his love to those condemning him for his comments, saying that those who are “plotting against him” are already forgiven. “Everyone insulting me, lying about me, Christian or not, I love you and forgive you,” he said. “May G-d have mercy on you.

“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’. 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 and bitterness. I will not.”

Mogoeng also thanked those who have expressed support for him.

“Thank you for not choosing convenience over principle, hatred over love,” he said. “Those who have prayed for me, Israel, South Africa, and the whole world, thank you for resisting intimidation by the enemy. Thank you for your boldness.”

Religious Christian leadership representing millions of Christians across South Africa have spoken out strongly in support of the chief justice, and criticised those who condemn him.

“The chief justice is a South African first,” said Congress of the People General Secretary Papi Kganare at Friday’s virtual protest. “As such, he has right to freedom of speech and belief. When he took office, he stated very clearly that he is a Christian, and no one objected to him being chief justice and Christian.

“He isn’t an employee of government. Not all South Africans are obliged to agree with the position the government has taken on Israel. The government has been inconsistent in how it handles other countries like Zimbabwe, Sudan, and the Ivory Coast where human rights are concerned. We believe it must be consistent and cannot pick and choose where it cries foul.”

Similarly, Dr Zwelakhe Elija Mthethwa of the Mthethwa tribe in KwaZulu-Natal, said that the ruling ANC had failed in its duty to the Christian population.

“Mogoeng must stand his ground, and we will mobilise all South Africans,” he said. “Clearly, our ruling party has failed the people of South Africa, and is very clear about its position on the Palestinians at the expense of the people of this country.”

Archbishop Mbulelo Mvubu, the founder of the Council of Churches South Africa International, said that the South African government had missed an opportunity to mediate between Israel and Palestine. “Instead, our government has taken sides rather than promoting peace and cannot be impartial,” he said.

“We support the chief justice. One cannot separate Palestine from Israel. As a South African, Mogoeng has every right to express his views and talk out as a Christian.”

2 Comments

  1. 2 Max Abrahamson 09 Jul
    What a man,  to stand up like this and display to the entire world what it means to have the courage of one's convictions. 
  2. 1 R. Forster-Towne 10 Jul
    Thank you for this informative and balanced article concerning the Chief Justice Mogoeng. As one who signed the petition in support of his unequivocal right to state his beliefs and in support of truth, I applaud both him and your news report for standing in defence of truth and justice. There is plenty of hate speech levelled at those who stand on behalf of truth. We could equally cry "offended" by them and lay charges. Please may those in a position to do so expose the lies, mis-information, distortion of truth and propaganda levelled against the State of Israel. (eg. Palestinian schools teach geography showing no Israel on the map). It boils down to anti-Semitism / racism / zenophobia / radical extremist Islamic agenda. So many people in the BDS and similar movements, are poorly or not informed, are ignorant of truth about the State of Israel, have been seduced by propaganda and bigotry. I have personally visited the State of Israel and made it my business to be informed, to the point of years ago having worked as a volunteer on an archaeology dig in the Jordan Valley. The truth about the Jewish people's inalienable right to their ancestral homeland from the Golan to the Sinai, and the so-called "occupied territories" is evident for all right-thinking and truth-seeking people worldwide. Judea and Samaria, the "West Bank" is as much part of Biblical, archaeological and Historical truth as other areas. Many Jewish-owned businesses that are facing the agenda of BDS in fact employ Palestinians. Have they thought of that? These same anti-Israelis are hypocritical also in that they benefit from so the State of Israel in their worldwide contributions to science, technology, medical research, agriculture, the arts and so much more, including disaster relief and humanitarian aid. I stand proudly in support of our faithful and ethical Chief Justice, a professional of unwavering integrity, and I salute and stand proudly in support also of the democratic State of Israel!

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