President Cyril Ramaphosa has also called on the public to give judges due respect.
The African National Congress (ANC) has apologised to Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya for using her image on its election poster.
The ruling party raised eyebrows on social media by sharing a poster urging people to register to vote for the ANC for its stance on transformation.
“The future is transformation,” reads the poster which used a photo of Maya, who is the first female deputy chief justice.
Office of the Chief Justice on Maya poster
The Office of the Chief Justice was prompt in calling out the ANC for the use of Maya’s photo, saying it was “inappropriate”.
“The Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) It has been brought to the attention of the Office of the Chief Justice that there is a purported African National Congress (ANC) election campaign poster circulating on social media bearing the image of Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa.
“The OCJ wishes to inform the public that this inappropriate use of the deputy chief justice’s image in an election campaign poster was not authorised by Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya or the OCJ. For the record, Maya is not a member of the ANC or any other political party.”
The OCJ cited article 12(1)(a) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibits judges from belonging to any political party.
“This unauthorised use of the deputy chief justice’s image has the potential to unduly bring the Judiciary into disrepute as well undermining the integrity of the Judiciary as section 165(2) of the Constitution provides that the courts are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law, which they must apply without fear, favour or prejudice.
“It is expected that those responsible for this unauthorised use of the deputy chief justice’s image, immediately desist and remove it from all online platforms where it has been published, and to publicly and unreservedly apologise to the deputy chief justice for this unfortunate incident.”
The ANC did remove the tweet and also apologised for the “oversight”.
“The ANC regrets any offence caused to Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya when a poster with her image was posted on our X page without her consent,” the party said.
“We intended to celebrate the significant progress and transformation made in all areas of society, including the judiciary, where Justice Maya is widely respected. The ANC unreservedly apologises to the DCJ on this oversight.”
Ramaphosa: Judges are independent
Speaking to the media during his voter registration drive in Soweto on Saturday, Ramaphosa called for the respect of judges. He emphasised that judges should not be dragged into politics.
“Judges are independent. They must be given the respect and position that is due to them to be the arbiters of the nation. If you’re going to be the arbiter of the nation, you have to be given the independence and you have to act independently because you have the standing,” he told Newzroom Afrika.
“This is why we should not drag them into party political issues, and they should also not allow themselves to be dragged into party political issues. They must not drag themselves into politics, because we also cannot drag ourselves into judiciary matters. As much as I know the law, to some extent, I will not drag myself into judicial matters.”
This comes just a few days after Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was criticised for his comments on former president Jacob Zuma’s legal woes.
Zondo was accused of crossing boundaries of acceptable speech by judges.