The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) is a voluntary association representing the interests of black lawyers in South Africa and the previously disadvantaged individuals.
Preamble to the Constitution of BLA reads as follows:
“Whereas we, members of the Black Lawyers Association, being: AWARE of our role in contributing towards building a society that is devoid of racial and gender discrimination characterized by a number of gross inequalities. Committed towards a democratic society and an independent judiciary that is transparent, accountable, non-sexist and non-racial.”
The BLA’s aims and objectives record that we shall:
“Foster, protect and uphold the rights and interest of its members;
Uphold, protect and advance human rights, civil liberties and the Rule of Law for the politically, socially and economically marginalized;
Fight and challenge all discriminatory practices;
Promote a non-racial, non-sexist judicial system and society;
Strive for the empowerment of women …”
It is on the basis of our founding document that we deemed it important to adopt the stance that we took in respect to Judge Jansen’s matter. It would have been inappropriate of us to not act, when a judge of the High Court, a person by means of her position, is expected to fight all forms of unfair discriminations becomes a perpetrator of racism. We raise our voice and take action to demonstrate our grave concern about the biased and retrogressive views held by Judge Mabel Jansen as reflected on her Facebook posts. In our view, the conduct of Judge Jansen is a capital offense for a judicial officer, which amounts to gross misconduct.
Judges are not law unto themselves. Judges account to the people of South Africa through the Constitution. This is why they must be careful of what they in and outside courts. There are codes and laws which governs how they should conduct themselves, we expect Judge Jansen to be conscious to this moral expectation.
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa declares, amongst others that,
“No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against any one on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3).”
Race is the first prohibited ground of discrimination, racism. The Constitution further, under section 10 guarantees that, “Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected”
The Code of Judicial Conduct adopted in terms of section 2 of the Judicial Service Commission Act, 1994 (Act No 9 of 1994) regulates the conduct of judges. Paragraphs 4 and 7 of its preamble declares that:-
“4. Section 174(8) of the Constitution provides that before judicial officers begin to perform their functions, they must take an oath, or affirm, in accordance with paragraph 6(1) of schedule 2, that they ‘will uphold and protect the Constitution and the human rights entrenched in it, and will administer justice to all persons alike without fear, favour or prejudice, in accordance with the Constitution and the law”.
“7. It is necessary for public acceptance of its authority and integrity in order to fulfil its constitutional obligations that the judiciary should conform to ethical standards that are internationally accepted, more particularly as set out in the Bangalore Principle of Judicial Conduct (2001) as revised at the Hague (2002).”
Article 5 of the code declares that:-
“5(1) A judge must always, and not only in the discharge of official duties, act honourably and in a manner befitting judicial office.
5(2) All activities of a judge must be compatible with the status of judicial office.”
The utterances by Judge Mabel Jansen that:-
“In their culture (black men) a woman is there to pleasure them. Period. It is seen as an absolute right and a woman’s consent is not required… [m]others are so brain washed that they tell the children that it is the fathers’ birth right to be the first…[m]urder is also not biggy (sic). And gang rapes of baby, daughter and mother a pleasurable pass time. … I still have to meet a black girl who was not raped at about 12"
Judge Jansen in her statements on social media broke the oath of her office that she will uphold and protect the Constitution and the human rights entrenched in it, and will administer justice to all persons alike without fear, favour or prejudice, in accordance with the Constitution and the law. To generalise and conclude that all black men are rapists is a racist remark outlawed by the Constitution. It shows her prejudice against black people as a whole. She cannot be trusted to adjudicate on criminal cases (rape and murder) involving black people either as culprits or victims.
Judge Jansen must know that rape is not a cultural issue, it’s a crime.
Judge Jansen’s conduct has brought the judiciary, its legitimacy and impartiality into disrepute. Her actions must be punished in order to maintain and protect the legitimacy of the judiciary. Her statements constitutes gross misconduct punishable by impeachment in terms of section 177 of the Constitution read with section 20(4) of the Judicial Service Commission Act.
We commend and applaud the immediate suspension of Judge Jansen following our call for her removal from office.
Now therefore we demand the following:-
- Judge Jansen to resign from her position as a judge with immediate effect;
- Impeachment of Judge Jansen in terms of section 20(4) of the Judicial Service Commission Act No 9 of 1994; and
- Judicial review of all the criminal cases (especially rape and murder cases) in which Judge Jansen presided over wherein black people were involved either as an accused persons or as victims.
Lutendo Benedict Sigogo
President: Black Lawyers Association