The Star Early Edition
Judge’s rape post could be probed by conduct tribunal
IT’S official: there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the suspended and controversial Judge Mabel Jansen is guilty of gross misconduct.
This emerged from an e-mail seen by The Star written by the Judicial Service Commission’s secretary, Sello Chiloane, dated April 7, 2017, in which Chiloane wrote: “Kindly note that the JSC, at its sitting held on 04 April 2017, considered the recommendation of the Judicial Conduct Committee regarding the complaints lodged against Judge Jansen that the complaints should be investigated and reported to by a Judicial Conduct Tribunal.
“Having considered the JCC recommendation, the JSC has found that there are indeed reasonable grounds to suspect that Judge Jansen is guilty of gross misconduct as contemplated in section 177(1)(a) of the constitution.
“As a result, the JSC has decided to request the Chief Justice to appoint a Judicial Conduct Tribunal to investigate and report on the complaints.”
Section 177(1)(a) of the constitution states that a “judge may be removed from office only if the (JSC) finds that the judge suffers from an incapacity, is grossly incompetent or is guilty of gross misconduct…”
The complaints against Judge Jansen relate to Facebook posts she wrote last year, where she intimated that rape was in black people’s culture and that she had yet to meet “a black girl who was not raped at about 12 (years)… the black people are by far no angels. Their conduct is despicable.”
The JSC did not respond to The Star’s request for comment, and detailed questions, by the time of publication.
Black Lawyers Association (BLA) president Lutendo Sigogo confirmed that his organisation had been told of the JSC’s decision, saying this confirmed the BLA’s strong belief that Judge Jansen’s remarks were “racist and discriminatory”.
He added that this would also protect the judiciary’s integrity because the judiciary did not need tainted judges.
Legal researcher from the Free Market Foundation, Martin van Staden, said Judge Jansen did not meet the threshold “as far as the integrity of a judge is concerned”, but added that her views would have been “absolutely” acceptable if she had been an ordinary citizen.
Van Staden stressed that he did not believe that people who make statements akin to those of the judge should be charged as this was against the constitutionally-enshrined freedom of speech.
However, constitutional law expert Professor Shadrack Gutto contended that there should be limits to freedom, saying: “Those limits should factor in the equally important right to dignity, which the judge impinged on with her sweeping comments about a racial group.” @khayakoko88