Africa

South African Judge Mabel Jansen to be investigated

Mabel Jansen Image copyright Enca
Image caption Judge Mabel Jansen said her comments had been taken out of context

A white South African judge is to be investigated for alleged misconduct after she purportedly said on Facebook that rape was part of black culture.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) said a top black advocate had lodged a complaint against Judge Mabel Jansen.

The justice minister has been asked to put her on special leave, while the complaint is dealt with, the JSC added.

Judge Jansen was widely condemned after her purported comments went viral on social media at the weekend.

She said, in posts attributed to her, that the gang-rape of babies, girls and women was seen as a "pleasurable" pastime by black men.

The judge said the comments had been made in a private Facebook exchange with South African activist Gillian Schutte, and had been taken out of context.

Ms Schutte said she made the comments public to expose the "deep racism and colonial thinking" prevalent in South Africa.

The JSC said it was confident that the complaint lodged by lawyer Vuyani Ngalwana would be dealt with in a "just and proper" way by its conduct committee.

After discussions with Judge Jansen, a proposal had been made to Justice Minister Michael Masutha to give her special leave, it added in a statement.

In the posts attributed to her, the judge said: "In their culture a woman is there to pleasure them. Period. It is seen as an absolute right and a woman's consent is not required."

Image copyright Twitter

In another post, she purportedly said that "murder is also not a biggy" for black men and "gang rapes of baby, daughter, and mother [were] a pleasurable pass [sic] time".

Judge Jansen added, according to the post, that the "true facts are most definitely not that espoused by the liberals".

Image copyright Twitter

Mr Ngalwana said her "outburst, effectively tarring all black men with the 'rapist' broad brush" was "shocking beyond belief", South Africa's Business Day newspaper reported on Monday.

A spokesman for the governing African National Congress (ANC) said he suspected there were other judges who engaged in "racist stereotypes", while the party's influential women's wing said her comments were "purely racist" and misrepresented the "facts about black culture".

The opposition Democratic Alliance said Judge Jansen's comments were "not only hurtful and demeaning", but undermined "the dignity of our people," the AFP news agency reports.

Image copyright Keystone
Image caption During apartheid, black people were regarded as inferior

The judge told local media that the posts were from last May, when she was in a private inbox exchange with Ms Schutte in an attempt to get help for victims of rape and assault.

"I was referring to specific cases," the judge was quoted by South Africa's News24 website as saying.

"It is very bad when you are attacked on this basis, when you know it is the opposite. I don't know what she [Ms Schutte] is trying to do."

Last month, Mr Masutha said he planned to toughen anti-racism and hate speech legislation following a spate of controversial comments on social media.

White minority ruled ended in South Africa in 1994.


South Africa social media race rows in 2016:

May:

  • #MattTheunisen trends after 26-year-old Cape Town resident uses derogatory words to describe the government on Facebook after it bans four sports codes from hosting international tournaments over failure to meet racial quotas
  • Rhodes Must Fall activist Ntokozo Qwabe boasts on Facebook that he and his friends made a Cape Town waitress shed "white tears" by telling her they would give her a tip "when you return the land"

March:

  • Standard Bank economist Chris Hart resigns after tweeting: "More than 25 years after Apartheid ended, the victims are increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities"

January:

  • Opposition Democratic Alliance suspends membership of estate agent Penny Sparrow over a Facebook post in which she calls black revellers at a beach "monkeys"
  • Government suspends employee Velaphi Khumalo over Facebook post in which he says black South Africans should do to white people what "Hitler did to the Jews".

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