Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng (inset) and the
Constitutional Court in Johannesburg

President Jacob Zuma has chosen to ignore concerns by civil society groups about Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng and officially named him South Africa’s Chief Justice on Thursday.

At a media conference in Pretoria, Zuma commented on Mogoeng’s public interview by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), in which the judge addressed questions about his views on LGBTI rights and being soft on gender-based violence in previous judgements.

“The interview was no doubt the longest, most transparent and most robust ever undertaken by a candidate of chief justice in the history of this young democracy,” Zuma said.

At the JSC interview, Mogoeng insisted that he was not homophobic and that he viewed violence against women in a very serious light.

Speaking after Zuma at the press conference, Mogoeng again promised to uphold the Constitution in his role as the head of the judiciary and the Constitutional Court.

“I… vow to be faithful to the Republic of South Africa, to uphold and protect the Constitution and the human rights entrenched in it, and to administer justice for all persons alike without fear, favour or prejudice, in accordance with the Constitution and the law,” he said.

On Wednesday, groups including the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, Section 27, Sonke Gender Justice Network, and the Treatment Action Campaign urged Zuma, in a letter, not to appoint Mogoeng to the post.

“Justice Mogoeng has paid lip service to the values of the Constitution,” said the groups. “He does so by simply proclaiming that he will uphold those values. We believe that it is necessary for a Chief Justice to show a demonstrated commitment to constitutional values rather than a mere stated commitment.”

They added that at the JSC interview it was clear that Mogoeng did not have the confidence and support of his peers and the public.

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