A HIGH court judge may have landed in trouble after her comments about rape and black culture were posted on social media.
Judges are generally held to higher standards in their utterances, even when their statements are intended to be private, and this is especially so when their comments could affect public perceptions about their impartiality in judging cases that come to their courts. Judge Mabel Jansen’s comments — reposted on Facebook and Twitter at the weekend by film-maker Gillian Schutte — have been condemned as racist and have raised questions about whether a black man accused of rape would get a fair trial before her.
In the messages Ms Schutte put up on social media, Judge Jansen 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.
"I still have to meet a black girl who was not raped at about 12. I am dead serious."
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) — which deals with complaints against judges — confirmed on Sunday it had received correspondence that a complaint was on its way.
Judge Jansen said she was unable to respond to questions as her husband had died on Saturday. However, on Twitter, she said: "What I stated confidentially to somebody in a position to help has been taken completely out of context and referred to specific court cases."
She also told Business Day that looking at the statistics of the criminal appeals and trials dealt with by the courts, "de facto, there are an inordinate amount of rape cases".
"Instead of hounding me with the epithet of a ‘racist’, the real issue should be addressed squarely, and that is the protection of vulnerable women and children and an endeavour to cure the pandemic," she said.
"Who will speak for them?" asked Judge Jansen.
In her messages to Ms Schutte, Judge Jansen spoke of an increased awareness by women of their rights, leading to a "veritable tsunami of rape cases". But it was often only on the third time a woman reported rape that she was taken seriously. "Mothers are so brainwashed that they tell their children that it is their father’s birthright to be the first."
Saying she could hand Ms Schutte "10, 20, 30, 40 files", Judge Jansen said that while white people had "a lot to account for", black people were "by far no angels".
"Their conduct is despicable," she said.
"Murder is also not a biggy. And gang rapes of baby, daughter and mother a pleasurable pastime …
"They are simply now in a position to branch out and include white women," she said.
Ms Schutte said the messages were sent a year ago, during a debate on her public Facebook page. The messages were "an inboxed version of what she actually said in public", but with very little public reaction.
Ms Schutte said she reposted the remarks this weekend after widespread calls for Rhodes scholar Ntokozo Qwabe to lose his place at Oxford over his now infamous Facebook post, celebrating a friend who had refused to tip a white waitress.
Ms Schutte said: "How could Qwabe’s utterances possibly have created more public outrage than these toxic, destructive and, frankly, illegal utterances?"
Chairman of Advocates for Transformation’s Johannesburg branch, Vuyani Ngalwana SC, said that Judge Jansen’s "outburst — effectively tarring all black men with the ‘rapist’ broad brush" was "shocking beyond belief, coming from a judge of the high court".
"We shall invite the JSC to invite the learned judge to explain her context and then decide whether she is fit to continue to serve as a judge."
Until she had explained herself, Advocates for Transformation remained "appalled at what appears on the face of it to be unwarranted and unprovoked racial profiling of black people in general".