South Africa’s deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke is one man that believes that the judiciary is reflective of the institutions and society in which it operates.
According to the enviable legal practitioner, what is so important each year is to see the Constitution fulfilled and nothing else.
Moseneke had repeatedly defended himself and his role in the society, stressing that he is accountable to the Constitution and not to politicians.
Speaking at the University of the Western Cape’s inaugural Law Dean’s Distinguished Lecture on Friday, he said: “I won’t respond to what politicians say. Frankly, I work for you and I account to you.”
Dikgang Moseneke’s assertions are coming after ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, SA Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande and others recently slammed the judiciary, asserting that it was “reaching” into the executive and legislative arms of state.
Responding more to the criticism, Moseneke said, “Let me tell you, I’m not going to answer any of those criticisms because they have no factual basis, to put it very, very mildly.”
He made the audience understand that South Africa is in a period of transition, but that his “own trust and faith still remain” because “I’m not about to cave in or give up, not just as a judge but as a South African.”
Remarkably, in 2007, Moseneke was heavily criticized by the ANCYL for comments he made at his 60th birthday party. Moseneke at that time said, “I chose this job very carefully. I have another 10 to 12 years on the bench and I want to use my energy to help create an equal society”.
“It’s not what the ANC wants or what the delegates want; it is about what is good for our people.”
And years after, he still believes that what he said in 2007 is still true, factual and relevant because “You don’t serve any political party‚ ruling or not.”
Stepping into his profession, Moseneke confessed that he had been overlooked three times, having served under three chief justices.
In his younger years, the legal guru was involved in the liberation struggle as a member of the Pan Africanist Congress. He was tried and subsequently convicted for his political activities and, at the age of 15, became the youngest prisoner to be incarcerated on Robben Island.
Dikgang Moseneke’s Profile
Meanwhile, Moseneke would be stepping down from the bench today – from the second most powerful position in the judiciary after joining the Constitutional Court in 2002.
The Constitutional Court will hold a special ceremonial session to mark his retirement. Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court‚ judges as well as representatives of the executive‚ parliament and the legal profession‚ will also be part of the occasion.
Dikgang Moseneke’s professional career started in 1976 as an attorney’s clerk in Pretoria. Two years later, he got admitted and practised for five years as an attorney and partner at the law firm Maluleke‚ Seriti and Moseneke.
He was called to bar in 1983 and practiced as an advocate in Johannesburg and Pretoria. In 1993‚ he was elevated to the status of senior counsel.
Moseneke also served on the technical committee that drafted the interim constitution of 1993. In 1994 he was appointed Deputy Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission‚ which conducted the first democratic elections in South Africa.
While practicing as a silk in September 1994‚ Moseneke accepted an acting appointment to the Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court.
In November 2002‚ he was appointed as judge of the Constitutional Court before being appointed Deputy Chief Justice in June 2005.