The curious reign of SA's unlikely chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng

In Mogoeng SA did not get the chief justice it wanted, but as 'lawfare' became a feature of political life, he would be more than equal to the challenge

17 October 2021 - 00:00 By Franny Rabkin

It was the tensest moment in an almost unbearably tense day. It was September 3 2011 and chief justice-in-waiting Mogoeng Mogoeng had already been grilled by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for hours. He was now, once again, being questioned on his dissent, with no reasons given, to eight paragraphs in Le Roux v Dey, the case in which Pretoria schoolboys had photoshopped the faces of their principal, Dr Louis Dey, and their deputy principal onto a photo of two men “sitting in a sexually suggestive posture”. 

The paragraphs from which Mogoeng had dissented reasoned that simply to call someone gay was not in itself defamatory. His dissent was already questionable. But to dissent without giving reasons breached a fundamental principle of judicial accountability: that judges give reasons for their decisions. ..

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