JSC interviews: Electoral Court chairperson candidate says more needs to be done about GBV

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Judge Baratang Constance Mocumie is seen during her interview with the the Judicial Service Commission.
Judge Baratang Constance Mocumie is seen during her interview with the the Judicial Service Commission.
Denvor de Wee, Gallo Images, City Press
  • The Judicial Service Commission is interviewing shortlisted candidates for Electoral Court chairperson. 
  • Judge Baratang Constance Mocumie, a Supreme Court of Appeal judge, is vying for the position. 
  • She said the Electoral Court was not as independent as other courts. 

Should a special court be established to deal with gender-based violence (GBV) cases?

This was what EFF president Julius Malema asked a candidate vying for the chairpersonship of the Electoral Court at the Judicial Service Commission on Wednesday.

"There is a war on women. When we wake up, we don't ask if a woman was raped; we ask how many have been raped; that is how abnormal we have become. We have become a sick society of how many women have been killed, not [about] whether a woman has been killed already.

"A war has been declared already. Have we not reached a point where a special court must be established to deal with these matters in a manner that will give confidence to society and send a strong message to the perpetrators to ensure that the country has moved from talking into action?" Malema asked Judge Baratang Constance Mocumie, a Supreme Court of Appeal judge.

READ | SCA interviews: Judge Piet Koen tells JSC he was 'gutted' by Mogoeng's criticism

Malema also pointed out that in the past, travellers mentioned late statesman Nelson Mandela but that today, the country is known for rape and gender-based violence.  

Mocumie responded: 

I agree with you, totally. There should be that kind of move and we should say so openly.

She also mentioned that Justice Minister Lamola had opened a court in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal where specialised magistrates deal with domestic violence and family-related matters, including GBV.

Mocumie told the JSC about her research on gender-based violence at universities, which focused on the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, the University of Limpopo and the University of Zululand.

She said she wanted to understand why rape happens at universities when "it (university) is supposed to be teaching you how to be better".

She added:

How do you not protect young women who are there? We need to be doing more work.

"I say to students, you can't be toyi-toying all the time. You can't be doing what the NGOs are doing. You have to challenge the legislature and say, these laws are not tight, this is how we want them tighter."

But Mocumie added that there should be a balance when dealing with GBV cases, and pointed out that perpetrators also have rights and that "society can appreciate we are not breaking that person". 

A first offender from a broken home would need to be rehabilitated, she explained.

Turning to the Electoral Court, she said it was becoming a specialised court but was not as independent as other courts. "One even tends to forget about it. It is just sitting there on its own. My view is that when appointed, I will be able to bring in the strengths of those sitting on the Bench," she said.

After deliberations, it emerged that Mocumie did not get the post. The JSC decided to advice Ramaphosa to appoint Judge Dumisani Zondi as chairperson of the Electoral Court.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the decision by the JSC.

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