The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) welcomes the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) announcement that it has accepted the recommendations of the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) that the complaints levelled against Judge Mabel Jansen are serious and that they should be investigated by a Judicial Conduct Tribunal (JCT). The decision by the JSC confirms the belief held strongly by the BLA that the remarks by Judge Jansen are racist and discriminatory. The conduct of Judge Jansen is unbefitting for a judge and as such has no place in the judiciary. Same shall never be tolerated irrespective of who the perpetrator might be.
The referral of the complaints to the JCT is in itself an indication that the conduct complaint of is serious such that it warrants impeachment of Judge Jansen. We implore upon the Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, to appoint the Judicial Conduct Tribunal without delay so that this matter may be brought to its conclusion speedily. We believe that JSC’s decision will be an example to all the judges who might be having discriminatory tendencies that they do not belong to the South African bench.
On the same breath we have learnt, during the interviews of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judges by the JSC, with great disappointment that racial groupings exists amongst the SCA judges. We find it unacceptable that some other judges are made to feel inadequate or others feel to be superior to others. As BLA we view such acts to have their root cause in racism and unfair discrimination. The allegations of racism and discrimination of some judges by others undermines the purpose for which courts are established. Judges are by their nature the principal defenders of our Constitution and they must be seen to do exactly that. We are saddened by this latest developments. Judges need a conducive environment to dispatch justice freely without fear of being undermined by their peers. They must feel equally worth and must have faith and trust on their learned sisters and brothers.
We, however, commend Justices Maya and Theron who were brave enough to bring this despicable actions to light. Justice Maya is an example of people who are fit and proper to lead the bench. It is of utmost importance that these unacceptable tendencies in the SCA were raised by women because women are, in the main, subjected to double jeopardy in as far as discrimination is concerned.
This unpalatable conduct must be investigated to the core and those who will be found to have contravened their oath of office and / or contravened the constitutional provisions must face the JSC’s full mighty through disciplinary measures, including possible impeachment.
We therefore call upon the Chief Justice to investigate these allegations without delay.
Black Lawyers Association: President
11 April 2017