PRETORIA - The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) and the Inkatha Freedom Party both expressed discontent about Judge Mabel Jansen’s unsavoury remarks about rape.
Snippets of Facebook chats between social justice activist Gillian Schutte and Jansen last year went viral on social media at the weekend. In the conversations, judge Jansen claimed “rape is part of black culture”.
Reacting to the furore, ANCWL Secretary General Meokgo Matuba said in a statement that she was very disappointed in Jansen’s derogatory comments made on Facebook which focused on “defining rape as a black culture”.
This view, she said, was not in keeping with the high position she occupied at the Judicial Services Commission.
Matuba highlighted that while the ANCWL continued to call for gender transformation in the country’s judiciary, it did not “support views coming from any person irrespective of gender or race that reduces the violent sexual abuse of women in our country as black culture.”
IFP Chief Whip in Parliament and Commissioner on Judicial Services Commission Narend Singh reiterated the ANCWL’s stance that these kind of comments were unacceptable.
Singh said: “Utterances such as this are totally unacceptable in a democratic South Africa. They are at clear odds with the code of judicial conduct and I believe warrant full investigation by the Judicial Services Commission.”
Matuba said Jansen’s comments were disturbing given the high level of violence against women and children in the country.
“Gender-based violence has no place in South Africa and it must be fought by all in the society for women to live happily as equal citizens in the country,” Matuba emphasised.
She said these harmful allegations made on Facebook which were “purely racist and a misrepresentation of facts about black culture” did nothing to contribute to the fight against the “scourge of sexual abuse in the country”.
Matuba noted that while the ANCWL respected Jansen’s right to engage in public debate, the organisation felt that her allegations around rape being a black culture “undermines the standing and integrity of the judiciary” and had lost trust in her ability to preside fairly over rape related cases in the future.
The ANCWL, Matuba said, called on the JSC to “decisively deal with her and relevant bodies to investigate if these utterances do not justify her being de- registered from the legal fraternity”.
Singh said that the IFP was deliberating the matter and in the process of deciding “whether or not to lay an official complaint with the Judicial Services Commission in this regard.”
The Democratic Alliance has reported Jansen to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).
The judge has insists her comments in a private conversation were taken out of context.
African News Agency