Judge Jansen: Lov­ing mum or racist?

CityPress - - News - SONJA CARSTERNS news@city­press.co.za JO­HAN EYBERS AND ABRAM MASHEGO news@city­press.co.za

‘I’m stand­ing by her no mat­ter how peo­ple con­demn me. She is my mother and I know what is in her heart,” says Lulu Qulu (28), the daugh­ter of Judge Ma­bel Jansen’s do­mes­tic worker, Si­bongile, who she legally adopted and raised in her home. The two black women have closed ranks around their “mother”, Judge Jansen, af­ter she was ac­cused of racism, say­ing she is “not a racist”. “On Mother’s Day my mes­sage was first on her Face­book page. I wrote to her that ‘she is the best mother in the whole world’.” “When the race bomb­shell about her re­marks on Face­book dropped, barely an hour later, I was in a state. Ever since I’ve been up­set and deeply hurt by the rude words snarled at her,” said Qulu.

Her cousin Nana Sit­hole (45), who to­gether with her mother Lena and son Tha­bang, lived with Jansen for more than six years, said May, as she fondly calls Judge Jansen, is also like a mother to her.

“I know her heart. She may have put some­thing wrongly but that doesn’t make her a bad per­son. Ev­ery­one makes mis­takes but only God can judge us,” said Sit­hole.

The past week has been hell for Jansen’s loved ones fol­low­ing the storm around the once-re­spected judge whose in­tegrity was ev­ery­thing to her – and hours af­ter she heard her hus­band had died be­hind the wheel of his car in Bri­tain.

He had been work­ing for three months at a time as an or­tho­don­tist in Eng­land over a pe­riod of time. But Jansen hasn’t been able to ar­range his fu­neral.

Since the jour­nal­ist and ac­tivist Gil­lian Schutte de­cided to make per­sonal mes­sages that Jansen sent to her a year ago pub­lic, the judge has been get­ting death threats. She was too scared to leave her house, said Qulu.

The judge deleted her Face­book page to pro­tect her fam­ily and friends. She only an­swers her phone if she knows the calling num­ber. A friend gave her a step-by-step guide on how to sur­vive an at­tack on so­cial me­dia. It reads: “Don’t get into a panic, don’t try to ex­plain your­self, don’t apol­o­gise and don’t al­low your­self to be iso­lated.”

Qulu added: “I’ve known her for 28 years. My room is in be­tween her two daugh­ters’ rooms, she put me through school and univer­sity and I en­joyed the same pocket money, ex­tra­mu­ral ac­tiv­i­ties and over­seas va­ca­tions as them [her chil­dren]. My bi­o­log­i­cal mother also came along.

“When I speak to her about her work, she tells me how trau­matic the child rape cases are for her. It over­whelms her be­cause she had very lit­tle ex­po­sure to crim­i­nal cases in her ca­reer,” she ex­plained.

“The day she wrote those mes­sages to Schutte she was busy work­ing on a judg­ment in the umpteenth rape crim­i­nal ap­peal, one in which a five-year-old girl was raped. She was emo­tional and got swept up in the de­bate on rape that was tak­ing place on Schutte’s page.”

Ac­cord­ing to Qulu, Jansen be­came friends with Schutte on Face­book be­cause Schutte was a friend of one of the judge’s friends. The two women have never met.

“Yes, she ex­ag­ger­ated and gen­er­alised about black men, but the re­al­ity is it is still a huge prob­lem in town­ships. I know, I have black friends who have been raped,” Qulu said.

Sit­hole said she was grate­ful to the judge for as­sisted her when her mother Lena was sick by set­tling the hos­pi­tal bills. When she passed away, the judge as­sisted with her fu­neral.

The Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion has sent Jansen a string of com­plaints for which she will be on trial be­fore a ju­di­cial tri­bunal. Un­til then she has been placed on spe­cial leave.

She did not want to breathe a word about her ut­ter­ances in the past week be­cause the case is sub ju­dice.

Writer and film maker Gil­lian Schutte ap­proached var­i­ous lawyers for help when noth­ing came of the com­plaint she lodged with the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (JSC) re­gard­ing Judge Ma­bel Jansen’s racist com­ments to her and on Face­book. And she reg­u­larly asked her le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, who lodged the com­plaint with the JSC on her be­half, to find out from the com­mis­sion why her com­plaint was not be­ing in­ves­ti­gated. It was only af­ter the race bomb­shell about Jansen dropped on so­cial me­dia last week that Schutte heard from her le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive that the JSC was still await­ing a sworn state­ment be­fore they could for­mally in­ves­ti­gate her com­plaint. “Un­for­tu­nately, my le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive didn’t do her work prop­erly,” Schutte ad­mit­ted. “My mo­tives are now be­ing ques­tioned be­cause a per­cep­tion has been created that I didn’t do any­thing about the mat­ter for a year.”

“I’ve also been put in the dock be­cause I sup­pos­edly di­vulged a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion be­tween me and Jansen. The crit­i­cism against me is based on the wrong facts. The re­al­ity is the so-called pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion be­tween me and Jansen [that she later pub­lished on Face­book] didn’t con­tain any in­for­ma­tion she hadn’t al­ready said pub­licly on Face­book.

“In the pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion with me she only gave a sum­mary of her racist as­ser­tion that was al­ready on Face­book, that rape is part of black men’s cul­ture,” Schutte said.

She said she was ex­as­per­ated by Jansen’s state­ments on Face­book last year. She im­me­di­ately un­friended Jansen and in­formed le­gal per­sons who were in a po­si­tion to take the mat­ter fur­ther. “I was ut­terly sur­prised that they sim­ply ig­nored my com­plaints.” Sello Chiloane, spokesper­son for the JSC, said when they were alerted to the com­ments there were no ex­tracts at­tached and Schutte was ad­vised on the pro­ce­dural steps on how she should lodge the com­plaint. He said the process in­cluded mak­ing an af­firmed state­ment or sworn af­fi­davit de­tail­ing the mat­ter or a com­plaint. Then the JSC Con­duct Com­mit­tee would as­sess and in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter and de­ter­mine if the com­plaint war­ranted an im­peach­ment of the judge.

“We get that a lot about judges and we ac­knowl­edge com­plainants’ emails, let­ters or other form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Then we ex­plain the process and pro­ce­dure of lodg­ing a for­mal com­plaint against a per­son,” he ex­plained.

Chiloane cited an ex­am­ple of a com­plaint against Judge John Hlophe where there was a tech­ni­cal is­sue with the com­plaint not hav­ing been made for­mally, as re­quired by the JSC act.

In Septem­ber last year, Schutte said she once again raised the mat­ter on her Face­book page and a jour­nal­ist who saw it sent word that she was in­ter­ested in do­ing a story about it. Noth­ing came of it. It was only at the be­gin­ning of this month that peo­ple started tak­ing an in­ter­est.

She posted Jansen’s con­ver­sa­tion on her Face­book page in re­ac­tion to the storm that was un­leashed when the trans­gen­der ac­tivist Wandile Dlamini and #RhodesMust Fall ac­tivist Tokozo Qwabe re­fused to give the wait­ress Ash­leigh Schultz a tip.

She wanted to know why such a huge fuss was be­ing made about this in­ci­dent while no one said or did any­thing when a judge said rape was part of black men’s cul­ture.

Af­ter a writer saw her post and shared it on so­cial me­dia, it be­came a storm in its own right, she said. “I’m just sur­prised at Jansen’s re­ac­tion to this. She tried to make her­self the vic­tim and that I was the one who was trans­gress­ing by mak­ing a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion pub­lic. The truth is that she her­self bared her racist feel­ings on a pub­lic fo­rum,” she said.

PHOTO: DEON RAATH

Lulu Qulu (28) is Judge Ma­bel Jansen’s adopted daugh­ter

Gil­lian Schutte

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