JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke says racism is a powder keg that could deeply damage South Africa and its people.
On the eve of his retirement as South Africa’s longest-serving Deputy Chief Justice, Moseneke has spoken out against the racist comments made by Judge Mabel Jansen, describing them as deeply hurtful.
Moseneke has written some of the Constitutional Court’s most influential rulings - and has been praised for his towering legal mind.
But he faced the wrath of the ANC Youth League in 2008, for stating at his birthday party that he wanted to use his energy to help create an equal society.
He was quoted as saying, “It’s not what the ANC wants or what the delegates want; it is about what is good for our people.”
“What I said at my 60th birthday is what I said repeatedly every single year that I sat on the Bench and that’s the mantra that should be of any self-respecting judge. You don’t serve any particular political party, ruling or not. You don’t serve any particular interest, powerful or not,” said Moseneke.
As Moseneke prepares to leave the Bench, a storm erupted over comments made by a judge he once worked with when they were both advocates - Mabel Jansen.
When Moseneke was appointed Deputy Chief Justice, Jansen wrote an article praising him as a man who had taken on racism and sexism at the Pretoria Bar Council.
Jansen now faces an inquiry over her Facebook comments, suggesting that rape was part of black culture.
“Those demeaning words hurt, I mean, they hurt deeply. Human beings are human beings are human beings. We like artificial distinctions among people. We feed our prejudices with imaginary, fundamental differences that are supposed to exist…Those who peddle racism do so I think at a great risk to all of us. Not just for themselves, for all of us,” he said.
Moseneke said racism has the potential to deeply damage the country and its people.
“We must just understand that that is a powder keg, and we mustn’t play around with that. Only those of us who have lived right through it, right through the bad days, the transition and now the relatively good days. We can see now new anger swelling and it must raise our antennas to say let’s go and look at this, not all anger has been resolved and it’s being exacerbated by the fact that people on the ground are not seeing the kind of deliverables they believe should be there,” Moseneke said.
A ceremonial court session in honour of Moseneke will be held at the Constitutional Court on Friday.
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