Mogoeng was delivering 14th Victoria as well as Griffiths Mxenge Memorial Lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College School of Law Awards Ceremony.
Honouring Victoria and also Griffiths, Mogoeng told the the gathering that resting easily when much more can be done to boost the nation would certainly be unmasking exactly what the Mxenges lived and also craved.
“South Africans, it’s now or never. Quicken your conscience to life… You will realise, like I have, that I have been sitting comfortably on a very uncomfortable situation; I have been idling by when my country, demanded so much more from me,” he said.
SA had the potential to be the best country in the world, but that depended on what the country did going forward, Mogoeng said.
Don’t spread bad news every day
“Please do introspections, avoid prophecies of doom. We have so much going for us… don’t spread bad news everyday… A positive outlook would go a long way in shaping a better SA.”
He said Griffiths was a selfless legal practitioner and his wife cared for children who were not her own. He said the couple was not driven by wealth, but by helping the less fortunate.
Mogoeng said Mxenge could have acted like some contemporary legal practitioners do in exploiting the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
He said he had heard stories of “an ignorant, oppressed, black South African being given R10 000 from RAF, with well over R900 000 going to an attorney who had never been injured”.
Mogoeng said money seemed to be the preoccupation of many South Africans.
“Now that we have a democratic SA, we can vote, I am the Chief Justice of SA because Mr and Mrs Mxenge and others who chose not to enjoy life or amass wealth.
“It’s time that we had a very deep self-examination… Have we parked like broken down vehicles ever since we cast our first vote?
“Now that we can become Chief Justices, advocates and SCs… Now that there is money rolling around in SA and opportunities are available, have we now resigned ourselves to greed and selfishness?” he asked.
“Have we forgotten what the Mxenges sacrificed for the sake of our freedom?”
He said sitting back and playing it safe when there was so much to do was a betrayal of the sacrifices made by the Mxenges.
“Now that there is no life-threatening situation in seeking taking SA forward and ensuring that the promises that were made in the Constitution are fulfilled, what is it that makes us sit comfortable and watch or criticise never doing anything to actively advance the course that many died for become a reality?
“What happened to us? Who said the struggle is over when people are living in shacks? What individual contribution are you making?”
Mogoeng said black and white South Africans should work together to help undo the injustices of the past.
“What is this obsession about unmitigated self-indulgence… The Constitution says SA belongs to all who live in it. What are you doing to contribute to a more united SA?
“The Mxenges did not believe in a black cause, they believed in a South African cause. They wanted an SA that was united.”
He said divisions in the past arose from the fact that some people could not vote and others were forcefully removed from their homes and the prime land that they occupied.
“We should never allow a situation where the resolution of the land issue is imposed on us. We should be proactive.
“Let us not allow a space for tension to arise out of something that we can resolve collectively as SA. Don’t condemn the government and hope that the problem is going to go away.
“There is so much land in the hands of our white compatriots. Why can’t we talk and let people vent on the matter to find a solution?”
Mogoeng recently delivered the Constitutional Court ruling on the Nkandla matter.
He ruled that President Jacob Zuma had flouted the Constitution when he ignored Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial action on the non-security upgrades done at his private homestead.