Gender group questions Judge Masipa's competence because of gender - Masutha

2016-07-09 16:00
Justice Minister Michael Masutha. (Stefan Heunis, AFP)

Justice Minister Michael Masutha. (Stefan Heunis, AFP)

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Johannesburg - A gender lobby has approached Justice Minister Michael Masutha questioning judge Thokozile Masipa’s competence because of her race and gender, he told journalists on Saturday.

Masipa sent out shock waves when she sentenced convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius to six years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. 

“When the gender lobby approached me soon after the initial judgment, I cautioned that they shouldn’t perpetuate the stereotype,” he said.

Masutha said there was a perception that black or female judges were incompetent by virtue of their race or gender. 

“It would be not only irresponsible but naive to claim that women judges are inferior and deliver inferior judgments. Of course we should continue to be critical of judgments but do so in a measured way and advance cogent reasons in that regard. But I don’t think to reduce it  to gender and race helps the situation,” he said. 

Masutha said he encouraged the NPA to appeal the Pistorius judgment if there were cogent reasons.  

“I have said to the NPA 'if you yourselves are not happy with the verdict it could even include a sentence... the onus is on yourselves to find cogent reasons to justify appealing that sentence.  If you can’t find cogent reasons then the decision is correct'. If the decision is wrong surely there should be cogent reasons to address it,” he said. 

He said he believed that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was doing its best to select the best judges they are presented with. But this, he said, did not mean they have the best legal experts. 

“I’ve served on the JSE and we do our best to select the best that are presented before us. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the people who are appointed are the best  legal experts there is in the country because some practitioners choose not to avail themselves for the office of being a judge,” he said.

Masutha was addressing the media during the South African National Editors Forum's annual general meeting in Houghton. 

Read more on:    sanef  |  npa  |  reeva steenkamp  |  thokolize masipa  |  oscar pistorius  |  michael masutha  |  gender  |  judiciary

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