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Chief Justice Mogoeng 'deeply concerned' by Mbete's claims of biased judges

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Chief Justice Mogoeng 'deeply concerned' by Mbete's claims of biased judges

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng

12th July 2017

By: News24Wire

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The Office of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is deeply concerned by accusations made by Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete that certain judges are biased against the African National Congress (ANC).

Mbete told the Sunday Times over the weekend that some judges were not impartial when it came to the ruling party, following high-profile losses in the High Court and the Constitutional Court.

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"When there is a case that affects someone from the ANC, those cases would find their way [into the courts] and if they end up in the hands of certain specific judges, forget it, you are going to lose that case," she told the newspaper.

"It has nothing to do with merit, with correctness or wrongness. Some names pop up in the head already."

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She did not provide any examples.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's spokesperson on Monday told News24 that Mogoeng was "deeply concerned" about the apparently "baseless perceptions or overly generalised complaints" against the judiciary.

"Partiality or a predetermination of outcomes in cases involving the ANC, or anybody for that matter, is a very serious accusation to level against any judge. Probably, it is an impeachable conduct," spokesperson Nathi Mncube said.

"What the Speaker, with the benefit of legal advice, ought to have done was to either lodge an appeal in every case where bias or an injustice is believed to have been committed or lodge a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Committee, of the JSC, against the particular judges she believes are anti-ANC."

'Separation of powers'

He also bemoaned the tendency to label any court case loss as "overreach", without a full consideration and grasp of the law.

"When a single judge has given a single judgment with which some leaders disagree, the predictable and often unsubstantiated reaction tends to be that the judiciary is overreaching or biased.

"Separation of powers was dealt with properly and thoroughly by the Constitutional Court in two of its most recent judgments."

Mncube said the Chief Justice could not be the one to point out cases of bias. There were constitutional mechanisms in place open to aggrieved litigants in cases where a judge may have been incorrect.

The court system ensured there was an appeals process in place, and that process would find out if any judge held a particular bias in his or her decisions.

Mncube said public figures should not narrowly conclude that, "if I lost there is [judicial] overreach... but if I succeed there was no intrusion".

"But, the Chief Justice wants to assure all South Africans and all litigants that the judiciary will continue to administer justice to all alike without any fear, favour or prejudice and only according to the Constitution and the law."

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo had not yet responded to News24's request for comment at the time of publication.

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