Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng encourages people to legally challenge lockdown laws

He says he is deeply worried about the impact of Covid-19 on South Africa.

2020-05-24 11:51:00 AM

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng encourages people to legally challenge lockdown laws

He says he is deeply worried about the impact of Covid-19 on South Africa.

The head of the judiciary spoke to News24 this week from under a tree on his farm, where he encouraged citizens to challenge government decisions they deem to be infringing their rights.“Even a constitutionalist function[ing] state of emergency is subject to constitutional review. The courts have a final say on the validity or otherwise on measures taken in a state of emergency. Our constitutional rights are crucial and there can never be a situation [where] any of us are not subject to constitutional review,” he said.

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Mogoeng said this was why he did not agree with the view that courts should have been shut down during the early phase of the nationwide lockdown because people should have the option to challenge any violation of their rights during this period.“I encourage every citizen who believes his or her rights have been infringed to, without hesitation, approach our courts, so the courts – that are constitutionally ordained to look into the constitutionality of acts or conduct of anyone – can review the matter and decide whether or not citizens have been wronged or citizens have been acting under an incorrect understanding of what the position is,” he said.

Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter that every citizen has the right to challenge government’s regulations in court.Mogoeng said while he does not align himself with the president, he has long maintained that citizens must rely on the courts if they believed government was infringing their rights.

The chief justice said the rising cases of coronavirus in the country and the economic impact were “deeply concerning” to him.“I am deeply worried,” Mogoeng said, reflecting on the impact Covid-19 has had not only on the judiciary, but on the entire country.

Mogoeng said Covid-19 and the related lockdown have made a bad situation worse in the judiciary, with cases piling up.Had South Africa’s courts been modernised much earlier, he said, virtual court proceedings would not be a foreign concept that was being resisted from some quarters.

“The first challenge, speaking for the judiciary, is that we haven’t been able to finalise cases as expeditiously as we would want to, as expeditiously as the public is entitled to have us do. The effect of Covid-19 has been to make the situation worse for the judiciary and for the broader public,” Mogoeng said.

While there was an effort to have matters heard virtually, some lawyers have rebuffed the idea.“You risk people saying, if they don’t succeed, you risk people saying I did not succeed because I was compelled by the court to present my cases under most unusual circumstances,” Mogoeng said.

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He said for many years he has been pushing for a court modernisation along the lines of the SA Revenue Service (SARS).“But you need funding to be able to do that. As you know, the public purse is highly challenged. There are so many key areas competing for the limited resources,” Mogoeng said.

The chief justice said the lockdown has exacerbated the problem of backlogs in courts, that was already a serious concern.“And the challenge is we really aren’t able to plan effectively around the lockdown because we don’t even know when it’s going to end. We don’t know when phase two is going to kick in, Level 3. And how long that is going to allow the courts to function particularly where it matters the most, at the magistrate’s courts and the high court and the courts of equivalent status,” he said.

Mogoeng said courts would have to prioritise cases impacting the economy and gender-based violence. But he said the biggest concern in the criminal justice system was that courts don’t function alone.“You got a number of other key stakeholders involved, like the police. Police must have their act in order in relation to criminal matters, the prosecuting authority, witnesses, and the legal representatives, some provided by Legal Aid SA, others funded by themselves.”

Away from the judiciary, Mogoeng’s concerns extend further.“I am worried about the impact of our inability to function as normal on the economy. I am worried about our inability to function normally and the impact thereof on crime.”Mogoeng said he was worried that mass unemployment may lead to a spike in crime.

“What will happen to the multitudes who will not have a source of income? Isn’t it likely to contribute to the already more concerning level of crime that we had to contend with so far as a society?”But there’s a silver lining too, he said.“This lockdown has given us an opportunity to reflect on how materialistic we are at times and how much need there is out there. The need that must not be theorised about… the need that must not be intellectualised about. But the need that cries out for practical steps [which] should be taken by each citizen who has something to share,” he said.

The chief justice relayed how domestic workers employed to assist with looking after his aged mother had proposed that parts of their salaries be contributed towards the gardener who was at risk of losing his income. He said the lockdown showed practical examples of ubuntu.

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Only now he says ko stage 3😶 The problem is not legislation.The Issue is security and safety protocols.Those govern not only separation to avoid contagion but also virus eradication strategies to ensure a healthy future operation. fita_sa Sober advice NchabelengAdil Mnxim he's just bored bcos he's missing reading minority reports.

Elderly people are being abused - forcing a 76 year old man who has smoked for 60 years into withdrawal - with symptoms ranging from shakiness, light headedness, anger, disturbed sleep and nightmares and overeating. Where is the medical and psychological support for old folk? South Africans = whites No Mogoeng must talk about land distribution

Well the south african governement has given us the green light to become criminals so why not lets just go on, human rights violations and arrest warrant, even if i spend my last dime on it. Why were the soldiers on the streets was it necessary, did they achieve anything? With what money nogal And then?

In the good olde pre 1994 days the ANC had no problem advocating violence, civil disobedience, burning down, killing, etc. Why change now that they are in power? 'Legally challenge' in a country that has not convicted a single person for state capture. Sorry Chief Justice Mogoeng, we know all about the ANC stalling policy. The firepool Zumas perfected it. endlockdownsa ANCMustFall cyrilramaphosa

White monopoly cabal media masquerading as journalists pushing propaganda. The Chief Justice didn't end there he continued sentence 'if they feel their rights are infringed' your reporting is bad and misleading. COVID_19_ZA ParliamentofRSA Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng didn't encourage people to lagally challenge lockdown laws please lets be honest instead he said if however people feel unsatisfied about the lockdown laws they must go to the courts but not to take these laws into their own hands

What about challenging the justice system Why have SA been so slow to challenge the lockdown? It is clear that the Chief Justice believes it should be? Please let’s use this crisis to draw some boundaries. MondeorPoliceStation Electoral law was challenged but he chose to ignore that because that is what will liberate us from this reckless government.

Mogoeng, be a man. Do the damn right thing and defend the constitution as per your oath. Coward. Why couldn't the ANC pick competent leaders like our chief justice instead they give the country all the corrupt and incompetent one's while the honest competent people blacks purple folk etc sit at home unemployed.

MISSYFIELDS19 I'll gladly challenge it until it's dead in the water and we are free, anyone have any money to contribute to the cause? DesireTablai Easy to say. Most people don't have the funds to even have the documents typed. Great idea, especially if you can foresee what is coming... A WAVE of public disobedience. People would rather have their day in court then, and I think they might just win....😎

'Legally challenge' when they turned down the urgent application from AfriForum? Time to challenge the entire ANC regime & it's corrupt system. It's damaged through fraud and corruption & by Cadre deployments! Legal assistance and the cost thereof is a problem in SA. Can we have a database that links lawyers who are willing to work pro bono in relation to these 'crimes' with the 'criminals'. LawSociety_SA LHR_SA can you assist

Why, just so every action can be postponed indefnitly by those under the ANC PURSE STRINGS. Sure. But citizens shouldn't have to defend the constitution. It should have been up held by the executive. Clearly no respect for it, and clearly points to intent. LockdownClara OK guys and gals VFPlus Our_DA, we've been given the green light to challenge the lockdown laws. Let's do this 😎

'...if they believe that their rights have been infringed'. That headline may be misleading if complete sentence is not captured. CJ is correct. The headline is misleading We Respect you CJ, My friends and colleagues are still waiting judgement on Human Rights still for 2 years. To Challenge these things are expensive and take long to be heard/judged. My Opinion. lots of red tape.

advocateleopard light at the end of the tunnel 🤔 Ayeye MYANC REALLY! So the TAX payers pay these idiots a salary of millions and now we have to pay AGAIN to proof that they are IDIOTS !!! Well THAT makes sense 🙈 GUNFRIENDLY_SA South Africa is no longer a Constitutional Democracy. GUNFRIENDLY_SA We don't have money to take your banana republic to court because we don't have jobs ,

I would’ve hoped Our_DA would do so... they’ve been shown to be totally ineffective during lockdown. With money coming from where? SA Was Abandoned without human rights when our justice department let Anc Govt shutdown our courts SAPS Doctors etc had to remain on the frontline What did our chief justice do & say then? NOTHING!!!! He is complicit with the Anc & the human rights abuses Tht followed Now woke

🇿🇦 This 👇 To challenge them so he can Rule them binding & justifiable👀👀👀 Yes hopefully the public will wake up sooner than later to their right to hold government accountable for blanket decisions taken on their behalf. fita_sa My smoking rights have been taken away however one would need financial means to go to court! My rights to see me children have been taken away. Many more rights actually

And then the Chief Justice will be part of the Bench of the ultimate court which will give the final judgment on the issue? Mogoeng Mogoeng warming up his hand for when CRZ, NDZ and Cele end up in the Con Court... I dig this guy. Ja that is our constitutional rights , but not to go around grandstanding

Easier said then done you need money for that and a R350 that people should be getting won’t cover any legal costs. So just keep you option to yourself you flea

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Pandemic responses must ensure human rights are protected - The Mail & GuardianBlanket measures such as lockdowns contribute to the needs and realities of people at the margins of society being overlooked. The RLF calls on Government to give all poor and unemployed citizens including all Social Security Grant categories a Universal lncome Grant of R7000.00 monthly. The banking sector and the debiting of UIF funds has deepened the poverty lines during the pandemic. To what extent can The NPA, IDC & the National Treasury push Ramaphosa to implement the the General Insolvency Bill. Declaring citizens insolvent while the pandemic persists.