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SA: Joint statement on the opening of crimen injuria cases against Judge Mabel Jansen

SA: Joint statement on the opening of crimen injuria cases against Judge Mabel Jansen

10th May 2016


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The leaders of the Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) and Forum of Journalists for Transformation (FJT), Attorney Lucky Thekisho and journalist Piet Rampedi, today opened separate cases of crimen injuria against racist South Gauteng High Court Judge Mabel Jansen at the Pretoria Central Police Station ( Case No 392/05/2016 and 394/05/2016 respectively)

In her May 2015 Facebook post, which emerged at the weekend, Jansen said black men were inherently rapists who molested children as young as five years for narrow pastime purpose. Jansen, in a discussion with writer and activist Gillian Schutte, claimed “99 percent of criminal cases I hear is (sic) of black fathers/uncles/brothers raping children as young as 5 years old.” Implying that rape was in the DNA of black people, she then asked whether this was “part of your culture?” The raw racist added that “apparently sex is simply to be had when required. And five years old, by the way, is old”.


Crimen injuria is defined as “a wilful injury to someone’s dignity caused by the use of obscene or racially offensive language or gestures”. Jansen’s utterances have violated our right to dignity, in particular black men and black people in general. Her statement is not only racist, insulting and prejudicial towards black people but is also demeaning and unbecoming of any judicial officer.

Section 14 (4) (e) of the Judicial Service Commission Act 9 of 1994 (as amended), states: “wilful or gross negligent conduct that is incompatible with or unbecoming the holding of judicial office, including any conduct that is prejudicial to the independence, dignity, accessibility, efficiency or effectiveness of the courts” This constitutes grounds for laying complaint against a judge, which we are doing currently.


Article 5(1)(vii) of the Norms and Standards for the Performance of Judicial Functions, adopted in February 2014, further requires judicial officers “to be courteous and responsive to the public and accord respect to all with whom they come into contact”.
It’s our view that Jansen’s deplorable statement breached Section 14 (4) (e) of the Judicial Service Commission Act 9 of 1994 (as amended), as well as Article 5(1) (vii) of the Norms and Standards for the Performance of Judicial Functions Higher Education Transformation Network Non-Profit Organization (NPO) Reg No: 116-851

In the light of the above, we believe we are duty bound as citizens of this country to lay a formal complaint with the JSC. This makes her unfit for office as a judge and we demand her immediate suspension pending full investigation into her racist conduct. Worrying to us is the fact that dozens of black men would have appeared before Judge Jansen over the past two decades as rape suspects. This means the poor souls would have been subjected to her racial profiling and prejudicial attitude and thus unfair trials. We think all rape cases she presided over involving black men should be immediately reviewed.
Jansen’s naked racism is an indication that we need to step up efforts to transform our judiciary and rid it of racist elements who apply the law through racial lenses. We have also instructed our lawyers to do the following:

  • Lodge official complaints with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC);
  • Facilitate our Equality Court cases against Jansen;
  • Send letters to the Judge President asking him to suspend Jansen with immediate effect pending the outcome of internal enquiry into her unbecoming judicial conduct;

The fact that Jansen has conceded to uttering the racist statements albeit in a different “context” is enough prima facie evidence to act against her. While we appreciate the fact that she has not denied insulting blacks, she must not count on our automatic forgiveness. It’s our considered view that the onus is not on Jansen’s accusers to probe any allegations against her, but on her to exonerate herself by proving the alleged context in which these offensive statements must be understood and justified.
Suspending her won’t be a new legal test. There are precedents already in cases such as the ones involving Judge Motata who were placed on long leave pending the outcomes of internal enquiries.

Of particular concern to us is the tendency by the usual suspects who run to open criminal cases against racists and lodge official complaints with statutory bodies like the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to create an impression that they are fighting racism. This is done as part of a ploy to discourage the real victims from demanding justice as well as to protect the culprits. These characters never follow up on their so-called criminal complaints, because they open them for academic and grandstanding purposes. In fact, they are complicit in white racism.

While cases were opened and empty rhetoric mouthed in public, nothing has come out of these cases. The reason is that the supposed complainants were never interested in justice for black people but their subjugation and the perpetuation of racism by the white minority. A case in point was how some rushed to open charges against racists such as disgraced KwaZulu-Natal real estate Penny Sparrow and Cape Town man Matthews Theunissen. The former described blacks on Durban beaches as “monkeys” while the latter dismissed the democratically elected government as “a bunch of kaffirs”, and black people as “fucking cunts”

We hope Jansen’s case would be an eye opener to naïve black people who are quick to accept the so-called apologies from white racists who fake remorse when caught out. We hope blacks would also understand that the time to laugh off wanton racism and demeaning treatment is long gone. For us, the time for empty apologies aimed at promoting the rainbow nation myth at the expense of social justice, redress and black dignity is long gone.

We therefore urge black people to rise up and defend their collective dignity by not taking these insults lying down. They must re-affirm their right to dignity and take whatever action they deem fit within the confines of the law to protect their constitutional rights.


Issued by HETN and FJT


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