• 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

  • 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) 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

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DEPUTY Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke‚ who is set to retire from the bench on Friday‚ has reflected on his time in the legal profession for a period of close to 40 years.

Moseneke came under fire from the ANC Youth League for comments he made at his 60th birthday party in 2007 when he said: "I chose this job very carefully. I have another 10-12 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."

Asked in an interview by eNCA on Thursday whether he regretted the comments‚ Moseneke said: "What I said is what I said repeatedly every single year that I was on the bench.

"You don’t serve any political party‚ ruling or not."

When asked whether being overlooked for the position of chief justice hurt him‚ Moseneke said he had served under three chief justices and had been overlooked three times.

He said if someone had asked him if he wanted to become chief justice‚ he would have said yes.

"It is neither here nor there."

"I knew when I came out of Robben Island that I had to make a choice either to go to exile or remain a combatant in the struggle. I chose to do things the way I know best. To become a lawyer of unfailing integrity.

"I was a convicted terrorist… I litigated against the Law Society to let me in. I went to the Bar Council‚ which had laws which did not allow people like me. There‚ too‚ I kicked the door open. I was very determined to become a spokesperson of our people in a difficult time in that troubled past.

"I had (the) privilege of defending Smangaliso Mkhatshwa‚ Winnie Mandela‚ Judge Hlophe‚ Thami Mazwai‚ Mathata Tsedu … and numerous trade union formations‚" said Moseneke.

The Constitutional Court will hold a special ceremonial session to mark his retirement on Friday.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng‚ other justices of the Constitutional Court and representatives of the executive‚ Parliament and the legal profession will participate in this event.

According to the Constitutional Court website‚ Moseneke started his professional career as an attorney’s clerk in Pretoria in 1976.

In 1978 he was admitted and practised for five years as an attorney and partner at the law firm Maluleke‚ Seriti and Moseneke.

In 1983 he was called to the Bar and practised 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 chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission‚ which conducted the first democratic elections in SA.

In September 1994‚ while practising as a silk‚ Moseneke accepted an acting appointment to the Transvaal provincial division of the Supreme Court.

Before his appointment as justice of the Constitutional Court‚ in November 2001 Moseneke was appointed a Judge of the High Court in Pretoria.

In November 2002‚ he was appointed as judge of the Constitutional Court before being appointed deputy chief justice in June 2005.

In response to Moseneke’s retirement, the EFF said it would like to see him enter politics after his retirement.

"His wisdom and wise counsel should not be lost to the emergent leadership of progressive forces across the political spectrum‚ in and outside the country‚" said the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

TMG Digital