WATCH | Clip of Mogoeng Mogoeng warning against 'attempt to capture' judiciary resurfaces

During the annual Nelson Mandela lecture in 2019, the former chief justice warned the audience to be vigilant about those working to establish a 'pliable judiciary'

13 January 2022 - 13:30
A video of retired chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng speaking on the role of the judiciary has resurfaced on social media amid an outcry over Lindiwe Sisulu's opinion piece.
A video of retired chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng speaking on the role of the judiciary has resurfaced on social media amid an outcry over Lindiwe Sisulu's opinion piece.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

A video of former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng warning against an attempt to capture the judiciary has resurfaced and is being shared widely on social media amid public reaction to Lindiwe Sisulu's controversial opinion piece.

In the clip of Mogoeng's address at the 17th Nelson Mandela Annual lecture in 2019, he spoke against those trying to capture the judiciary.

“You must know, there is an attempt to capture the judiciary and a captured judiciary will never be able to use the constitution as an instrument of transformation, because any captured member of the judiciary will simply be told or will know in advance, when so and so and so and so are involved, we better know your place.

“Or when certain issues are involved, well the decision is known in advance, so and so can’t lose. Be on the lookout, be vigilant and be forceful in making uncomfortable anybody who seeks to establish a pliable judiciary.”

The clip was reposted as social media users debate Sisulu's comments about the judiciary.

In a piece, titled “Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice?”, the tourism minister slammed the judiciary for upholding law that is not based on African values, at the expense of the poor, and seemingly labelled judges as “mentally colonised Africans”. 

“The most dangerous African today is the mentally colonised African. And when you put them in leadership positions or as interpreters of the law, they are worse than your oppressor. They have no African or Pan African-inspired ideological grounding. Some are confused by foreign belief systems,” she wrote.

She also used the term “house Negroes” to address what she claims is their failure to address the issue of landlessness. 

“When it comes to crucial economic issues and property matters, the same African cosies up with their elitist colleagues to sing from the same hymn book, spouting the Roman-Dutch law of property. But where is the indigenous law? It has been reduced to a footnote in your law schools. Where are the African value systems and customs of land, wealth, and property?”

Acting chief justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday said Sisulu had insulted all African judges with her remarks. 

“She has questioned the rule of law. As a MP, as a member of the executive, Ms Sisulu has taken an oath to uphold the constitution, to respect it and to protect it. And part of our constitution is the rule of law,” said Zondo.

He said her comments undermined the rule of law and had the potential to erode public trust in the judiciary and the courts.

The minister said in response that she would engage with the acting chief justice in due course as she was still in consultation with her lawyers. 


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