Judge’s rape comments: DA, women’s league call for probe

Mabel Jansen
Mabel Jansen

The ANC Women’s League has called on the Judicial Service Commission to investigate whether high court judge Mabel Jansen should be removed for comments linking rape with black culture. And the Democratic Alliance, which also intended to report her to the commission, wanted the South African Human Rights Commission to investigate. 

“Her comments made on Facebook where she claims that the rape of young children is part of black culture, are purely racist and misrepresentation of facts about black culture. The comments are not in any way assisting in fighting the scourge of sexual abuse in the country,’’ women’s league secretary-general, Meokgo Matuba, said. 

Although recorded cases of rape had decreased by 7.4%, from 46 647 in 2014 to 43 195 in 2015, the figures were still high, she said. 
Democratic Alliance member of Parliament Glynnis Breytenbach said Jansen had violated Article 7 of the code of judicial conduct. 

According to Article 7, a judge must at all times “personally avoid and dissociate him or herself from comments or conduct by persons subject to his or her control that are racist, sexist or otherwise manifest discrimination in violation of the equality guaranteed by the Constitution”. 

The comments were circulated on social media on the weekend after writer Gillian Schutte re-posted excerpts of a debate Jansen joined on Facebook on May 24 last year. 

Schutte had posted a petition on May 23 by Rodrigo Herhaus de Campos on www.change.org lobbying for the right of white South Africans to settle in Europe on the

grounds that they were being persecuted in South Africa. 
De Campos claimed there was “ethnic cleansing” against white people. Jansen joined the fray with the comment: “The misery suffered by all races is unacceptable.” 

She responded to one comment: “@Luthando – 99% of criminal cases I hear are of black fathers/uncles/brothers raping children as young as five years old. Is this part of your culture?’’ 

Schutte replied that throwing around figures like 99% would lead to a hardening of white racial attitudes. Jansen then invited her to look at her case files. Schutte said most black fathers, husbands and uncles did not rape children. 

“You are more than welcome to come and look at my files. It will be a great eye-opener. Apparently sex is simply to be had when required. And five years old, by the way, is old,” Jansen replied. 

Schutte said a lawyer undertook to lodge a complaint with the JSC on behalf of those who were offended by what Jansen had written as far back as last June. Nothing came of it, so on Saturday she shared the comments again. 

This was partly in the light of the criticism aimed at Oxford University student Ntokozo Qwabe’s Facebook post over the “white tears’’ of a waitress he refused to tip and told to “return the land”. 

Schutte wanted to know why his comments created more outrage than the judge’s “toxic, destructive and frankly illegal utterances”. 

Jansen said her comments were taken out of context because she was referring to specific cases that crossed her desk. 

Jansen, who was appointed a high court judge in December 2013, said the number and brutality of the rape cases judges had to hear was shocking. 

She got in touch with Schutte when she was trying to find help for victims. They had an argument about rape and Jansen blocked Schutte and did not think about it again. 

Schutte said the issue was not personal, “but this can’t be allowed”. 

News24 established that the complaint to the JSC last year stalled because the lawyer who had undertaken to handle it did not file the required affidavit. It was revived today. 

JSC spokesperson Dumisani Ntsebeza said he would not comment until the JSC had formally received the complaints. – News24 

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