High court judge defends rape comments

2016-05-08 22:42

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2016-05-04 11:33

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Cape Town - Calls are mounting for high court Judge Mabel Jansen to be removed from the bench after snippets of Facebook conversations were posted to support an accusation that she is racist and believes rape is part of black culture.

But the judge says her comments were taken out of context, and that she was referring specifically to rape cases she has heard.

Well-known Activist Gillian Schutte posted excerpts of written exchanges with Jansen on Saturday and Sunday, in which Jansen said, among other comments: “In their culture a woman is there to pleasure them.”

Speaking to News24 a day after her husband died, Jansen said that the comments referred specifically to the cases she had handled.

They formed part of a private Facebook inbox exchange from last May, emanating from an attempt by Jansen to get help for the victims of the rape and assault cases that she hears.

It worried her that victims were often alone with no help - especially children, and women raped by a relative or family member.

She was told Schutte would be able to give her advice on how to help them, and they started communicating via Facebook inbox.

And, Jansen says, before she knew it, she was under attack and accused of saying that all black men are rapists. 

Jansen maintains that this is not what she said. 

“I was referring to specific cases,” said Jansen. “It was within that context.

“She knew I was not generalising.”

She said the number and brutality of the rape cases the judges have to hear shocks all of them and she invited Schutte to read the case files.

But, said Jansen, Schutte became increasingly angry with her, so she blocked her and forgot about it.

Then this weekend, Schutte took the inbox messages, interspersed them with some tweets, and has been publishing them non-stop, she said.

“It is very bad when you are attacked on this basis, when you know it is the opposite. I don't know what she is trying to do.”

But Schutte said on her Facebook page that she intended taking it further on Monday.

She posted: “Why is is that when white bigotry of the lowest order is exposed you are accused of being destructive? This woman is a Judge of the High Court and yet her views on black people reflect deep racism and colonial thinking. Not acceptable. This is not personal. It is about both systemic and institutional racism. ?#‎MabelJansen?”

A petition on Amandla.mobi “Remove Judge Jansen for Racist Comments”, which was being shared on Facebook, had collected almost 400 signatures by Sunday night.

Read more on:    racism  |  social networks

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