Chief justice mum on Shaun Abrahams — in case it reaches Constitutional Court
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng met Parliament’s justice portfolio committee and heads of courts to discuss issues of common concern — and the subject of political issues playing out in courts‚ the state capture report and the fitness of NPA boss Shaun Abrahams to hold office were not on the agenda.
The meeting‚ which took place at the Office of the Chief Justice in Midrand on Monday‚ did look into the capacity of police and prosecutors to secure convictions in sexual assault cases however‚ as the 16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women and Children is under way.
When asked whether politicians could put the country into a constitutional crisis by airing political disputes in courts‚ Mogoeng said it was the right of politicians to seek justice from the courts when it could not be found through other avenues.
"If we had it our way‚ us as the judiciary‚ we would prefer to have them deal with issues of concern from within…. [But] it is a tribute to our constitutional democracy to have people who have disputes‚ particularly somewhat volatile disputes‚ resorting to structures that were designed to resolve disputes for a solution."
Mogoeng would not comment on the pending inquiry into National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams’s fitness to hold office.
Abrahams and two of his colleagues must on Monday provide President Jacob Zuma with reasons why they should not be suspended pending an inquiry into their fitness to hold office‚ related to their handling of the prosecution of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Last week the High Court in Pretoria dismissed an application by civil rights groups Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation to have Abrahams suspended for lack of urgency.
Mogoeng said the case may return to court and if it does, he expects it to be heard by the Constitutional Court.
If that happens, he may want to sit on the bench‚ he said. "I don’t want to give people a reason to apply for my recusal."
Mogoeng also reiterated comments his office made previously about former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report.
"The chief justice was never the subject of the investigation by the public protector … there is no obligation for the chief justice to do anything‚" he said.
Madonsela had recommended that Zuma approach the chief justice to assist him in appointing a judge to preside over a judicial commission of inquiry to deal more extensively with allegations of state capture.
Mogoeng said if Zuma approached his office it would consider assisting him with a name but until then there was no action for it to take.