Proving that "sorry" really is the hardest word, Mogoeng Mogoeng is set to appeal against a Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) order to apologise for comments he made last year.
The chief justice veered into a controversial lane in June, when he ventured his opinion on SA’s policy on Israel in a public webinar. When he drew flak, he doubled down, telling a prayer meeting he would not apologise or retract, "even if 50-million people were to march every day for 10 years". Then, a dramatic dénouement: "If I perish, I perish."
The JCC made matters easy for Mogoeng, even scripting his response: "apologise unconditionally for becoming involved in political controversy", retract the comments he made at the prayer meeting, and reaffirm his support for the authority of the JCC. Three paragraphs.
Instead, he notified the JCC of his intention to contest the ruling. He then reportedly told a prayer meeting that the Lord had given him "rock-solid grounds for appeal", before straw-manning judge Phineas Mojapelo’s ruling, and channelling Jacob Zuma to vent about his own victimhood.
Instead of simply appealing against the ruling, as is his right, his diatribe sets him up against the judiciary he leads — an institution already under fire. This will be the legacy he leaves when he retires from his venerable office in October.
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