Blacks get harsher punishment: Magistrate

By Drum Digital
27 March 2012

A Pretoria magistrate has said black people are having to pay more bail than whites, and are effectively receiving harsher punishments than whites who have committed the same offences.

Magistrate Ndileka Ndamase made the statement in the Hatfield district court on Monday, during the bail application of Carol Smith, Beeld newspaper reported.

She wrote on the charge sheet that blacks who stole items worth under R1000 were granted bail of between R1000 and R2000.

"[On] the other hand, white people who commit serious offences are released with a warning, or on bail of under R1000," Ndamase wrote.

Smith, who is accused of cashing a fraudulent cheque of R30,000 at an Absa branch, was effectively denied bail.

Smith's lawyer, Mariette Jansen van Vuuren, told Beeld the State had not opposed bail, and that the docket had not been brought to court.

"The magistrate had a problem with the confirmation of my client's address, but her [Smith's] husband gave a statement and rendered proof of residence," Jansen van Vuuren said.

Ndamase insisted on the submission of police confirmation of Smith's proof of residence, and effectively refused bail on these grounds.

"My client is being disadvantaged because Ndamase is prejudiced against her," Jansen van Vuuren said.

According to Beeld, the Law Commission is currently engaged in a disciplinary hearing against Ndamase, because of firstly, her alleged refusal to carry out judicial orders and secondly, her alleged refusal to accept authority.

Beeld reported Ndamase and Jansen van Vuuren earlier had an altercation in the same court, due to Ndamase addressing the court in isiXhosa, instead of English.

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