Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: REUTERS
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: REUTERS

The ANC has called on National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise to talk to chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng about political  utterances he had made during a webinar hosted by The Jerusalem Post.

Mogoeng is the head of the judiciary, which is a separate arm of the state.

In its report on the webinar, which also featured SA chief rabbi Warren Goldstein, The Jerusalem Post quoted Mogoeng as saying that SA's history of forgiveness and understanding  should inform its approach to peacemaking. Mogoeng reportedly added that as a practising Christian he believed that those who curse Israel would themselves be cursed.

In the extraordinary statement released by the ANC on Thursday evening the party said Mogoeng had shown his apparent support for Israel in the interview.

The government and the ANC officially view Israel as an apartheid state. The party is clear in its support for Palestinians who are oppressed by the Jewish state.

The ruling party said it was “deeply concerned” by Mogoeng's remarks. It respected the office of the chief justice, but urged the speaker of parliament to have “high-level talks with the chief justice regarding his political commentary”.

“The esteemed chief justice entered the arena of political commentary which may make him vulnerable should he have to adjudicate a human rights matter in the future,” the ANC said.

The party added that Mogoeng had “openly supported” the actions of the state of Israel.

“It was rather unfortunate for the chief justice to state that: ‘South African government policy was binding upon himself and that he was not seeking to reject it’ but then clearly and openly opposing it as a citizen,” the ANC said.

Mogoeng was free to question any policy decision, but he needed to take the context of the position he held into consideration, the party said.

“We respect his religious choices but SA is a secular state and its judiciary must be secular. The chief justice is entitled to his personal views, however, when echoed out in the public such views should never be at the centre of societal polarisation,” the ANC said.

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