The problems SA are facing are a direct consequence of apartheid and colonialism – and anyone suggesting otherwise is “mischievous”, chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said this weekend.

“Just know that you are being mischievous if you say people must stop blaming apartheid and colonialism. Yes, we can’t blame it all for everything but the problems we are now faced with are direct consequences of colonialism, its sister neo-colonialism and apartheid,” he said on Saturday.

Mogoeng was delivering the 17th annual Nelson Mandela Lecture at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus.

He did however say that inequality was now worse than during apartheid.

It was a shame that there were so many people still suffering, the chief justice said.

“Inequality has become sharper than during apartheid.”

He encouraged South Africans to learn their rights and understand the constitution, saying they should arm themselves with knowledge.

“The greatest facilitator of sustained injustice is keeping people ignorant of what they are entitled to. Knowledge is power,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if you are black or white, whether you speak Tswana or Afrikaans, whether you ride in a smart new car or walk barefoot, we all have certain basic human rights.”