Mogoeng and the prophet
Chief justice reveals how a prophecy as far back as 2004 told him he would be selected to be the country’s top judge.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was able to rise above public opposition to his appointment because he believed a “prophecy of God” had determined he would be chief justice.
Mogoeng has spoken out about how he made it through his marathon Judicial Service Commission interview and strident opposition to his appointment in an interview that was recorded for Watchmen on the Wall, a show which airs on Christian channel TBN Africa on DStv.
The interview was aired earlier this year, and City Press watched it on YouTube.
In response to a question from host Errol Naidoo about the controversy surrounding his appointment, Mogoeng explains how he was informed of the prophecy that he would be chief justice, as far back as 2004.
“Fortunately for me, and it may not make sense to you except (if you’re) a Christian, from as far back as 2004, there was a crusade in Mahikeng at the civic centre.
“A man by the name of Richard Grey . . . called me and said: ‘You are a judge, aren’t you? The Lord says you are going to be the chief justice of South Africa’.”
Mogoeng then tells Naidoo that he “laughed it off” but that the prophecy was subsequently confirmed by “men of God from London, Ghana, Nigeria and Washington DC”.
“That is why, notwithstanding the intensity of the opposition, not just from the country but from all over the world, the prophecy of God, who never lies, prevailed.”
Mogoeng’s 2011 nomination and subsequent appointment by President Jacob Zuma resulted in a media storm over his suitability to lead the judiciary.
Mogoeng’s nomination attracted criticism from, among others, trade union federation Cosatu, opposition parties and civil rights groups Section27, the Sonke Gender Justice Network and the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project.
In his interview with Naidoo, Mogoeng said the media storm “revolved around my Christianity. It had a lot to do with my faith. It looked like there was something about my Christianity that did not go down well with the people in the media and certain sectors of our society,” said Mogoeng.
Mogoeng’s comments have elicited a mixed reaction from a diverse group of lawyers City Press interviewed this week.
One senior counsel described Mogoeng’s comments as “utterly unacceptable”.
“It is a complete crossover between church and state. This, under a secular constitution.
“Of course he has the right to religious freedom, but in terms of the office he has accepted, he cannot associate himself with a belief in the public way he’s done,” said the lawyer.
Another advocate disagreed, saying that “Mogoeng became chief justice because of the work he’s done and the fact that he is respected by his peers, who nominated him. If he was motivated by religion that is understandable and it’s his issue.”
Another senior counsel said she would be “happier if the most senior judge in the land, the representative of the judiciary and the person who holds the Constitution in his hand was more grounded in reality”.
Another attorney said “it’s his belief and we cannot judge a person by their religion”.
Lulama Luti, spokesperson for the office of the chief justice, emphasised that TBN was a Christian channel and that Christians appreciated encouragement and testimony about how to make their way through difficult situations.
“To suggest that he is not permitted, as a Christian, to share his unpleasant experience and how he navigated his way through the attacks that were apparently calculated to prevent his appointment, just because he is the chief justice, is to deny him the enjoyment of his Constitutional right to freedom of religion,” said Luti.
She said Mogoeng sees “nothing wrong in confessing his Christian faith in the way he did and (testifying) about his absolute dependence on his God during an incredibly difficult time”.
City Press was unable to track Grey down.