Judge’s rape post could be probed by con­duct tri­bunal

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - KHAYA KOKO

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

MA­BEL JANSEN

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