• Deputy Judge President Dikgang Moseneke (L) and Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng exchange smiles as Moseneke particiipates for the last time at the Constitutional Court. The session, on Friday, marked his formal farewell from the court. Picture: GCIS

  • Deputy Judge President Dikgang Moseneke (L) welcomes former President Kgalema Motlanthe (R) and his wife Dudu Mtshali to the justice's farewell at the Constitutional Court on Friday. Picture: GCIS

  • Deputy Judge President Dikgang Moseneke (L) is greeted by former President Thabo Mbeki at the justice's farewell at the Constitutional Court on Friday. Former president Kgalema Motlanthe looks on. Picture: GCIS

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AS HE bowed out of office on Friday, Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said the judiciary was safe in the hands of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

The period leading up to the appointment of Mogoeng — after Moseneke was overlooked despite overwhelming support — was one of the most tense for SA’s judiciary and the justices of the Constitutional Court.

On Friday, at Moseneke’s farewell function at the Constitutional Court, both of them spoke of the importance of putting the institution first — in an unprecedented public affirmation of the unity of the judiciary and its highest court.

Moseneke said despite their "initial discomfort", he and Mogoeng had "found each other".

"Each time there was a storm that swelled around this institution, you and me stood firm," he said to Mogoeng. "I can say without any fear of contradiction that your integrity has been shown to be beyond question."

Earlier Mogoeng said Moseneke did not "throw tantrums" when he was overlooked, despite being "unquestionably qualified to take over".

"He knew that he was deserving; he knew that all things being equal, it was proper and appropriate to believe that he would naturally be the chief justice".

Instead Moseneke had put the judiciary and the "people of the republic" first, said Mogoeng.

Moseneke warned Mogoeng that there was "much turbulence ahead". However a "good pilot" navigated that kind of turbulence and Mogoeng had his full confidence, he said.

As Moseneke finished his address with "God bless Africa and all its people", he broke down. Mogoeng reached out his arm to him and the two stood and embraced, as the entire audience spontaneously rose to applaud them.