'Witnessing corruption and remaining silent makes one complicit', says Chief Justice Mogoeng

Chief Justice Mogeong Mogoeng.
Chief Justice Mogeong Mogoeng.
Image: Gallo Images

Witnessing corruption and remaining silent makes one complicit.

This is according to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng who has called on South Africans to become whistleblowers in sectors of society that they are in.

Delivering the 17th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at the University of Johannesburg Soweto campus on Saturday under the theme ‘Constitutionalism as an instrument for transformation’, Mogoeng said that people must not use fear of losing their jobs to remain quiet while witnessing corruption and thievery thrive in front of them.

He said that like Mandela, who was prepared to die for his stance against the injustices of apartheid, South Africans must be willing to suffer consequences that could come with exposing those who are committing crimes.

“What are you prepared to suffer for? What a shame, if just because of that publicity, or criticism from one source or the other, or the risk of being fired, you become a participant in stealing the resources that are supposed to help the poor,” said Mogoeng to loud applause.

“What a shame to know that some of us, even if you see some of the most heinous of crimes being committed, just because a criminal threatens you, you’d rather have that little girl suffer, it becomes none of your business. You’d rather have gangsters terrorising our people just to protect your own skin.”

He said that out of respect for Mandela and the constitution, people ought to stand out and stand up against criminality.

“When you are in the company of thieves, of criminals, and you only say ‘you know it’s not right to be a thieve, criminality is wrong’, but do not focus on who the thief is and how they go about stealing what needs to be done to them, they will be joining you. They will come up with profound statements in relation to just how wrong theft and criminality is,” said Mogoeng.

The speech saw hundreds of attendees concur with almost every point he made, with people ululating and clapping throughout.

He said that his hope was that people, out of respect for Mandela, would view his lecture as a moment for a new beginning and a clarion call for action against illegality.

He said that a lot of the social ills being faced today, which include inadequate delivery of basic services among others, were as a direct result of corruption and that people must now take it upon themselves to expose it.

“A demand by none other than Madiba himself, [is] that we’ve got to act on a daily basis to expose and root out corruption, injustice and criminality.

“We’ve got to, on a daily basis in every sphere of influence you occupy, see as your individual and collective responsibility to get South Africa to the place where it has the potential to be. Remember, he so believed in the ideals that are synonymous to our constitution that he was prepared if needs to be to die,” said Mogoeng.

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