A South African judge has been put on special leave following the emergence of Facebook comments in which she claimed sexual violence was part of black people's culture. The country's justice ministry said Mabel Jansen will be investigated for alleged misconduct as thousands of people have been calling for her to quit the bench at the Gauteng High Court.
Minister of justice Michael Masutha decided to grant the special leave after a complaint was lodged by Judge President Dunstan Mlambo. "I have granted leave for Madame Justice Mabel Jansen with immediate effect.That I have not hesitated to grant leave, special leave in this instance, confirms how I view this allegation," Masutha said in a statement.
Among other things, Jansen suggested sexual violence against girls and babies was a "pleasurable" pastime for black people. "In their culture, a woman is there to pleasure them. Period. A woman's consent is not required. I still have to meet a black girl who was not raped at about 12," read a post attributed to her. "Murder is also not a biggy. And gang rape of baby, daughter and mother a pleasurable pass [sic] time,"she continued.
Following widespread criticism, Jansen said her comments had been taken out of context and that she had been referring to specific cases of sexual violence during a private Facebook chat she had in May 2015 with activist Gillian Schutte, who, almost one year later, published some extracts from the conversation.
"I was referring to specific cases. It was within that context. She knew I was not generalising," Jansen told News 24. "It is very bad when you are attacked on this basis, when you know it is the opposite. I don't know what she is trying to do."
Schutte justified her decision by saying that she wanted to expose the "deep racism and colonial thinking" in South Africa.
Both the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) condemned Jansen's comments. Following the incident, the government said it intends to tighten anti-racism laws in the country, where white-minority rule ended in 1994.