Black men see rape as a right, says South African judge

A senior white South African judge is at the centre of a fresh racism furore over comments she made that black South African men regarded rape as a cultural right.

She claimed that she was “yet to meet a black girl who wasn’t raped by the age of 12”.

She told commenters on a Facebook thread that “99%” of her cases were “black fathers/uncles/brothers raping children as young as five years old”, then asked one poster: “Is this part of your culture?”

It is the latest in a string of similar incidents that have laid bare the racial tensions that endure more than two decades after the end of apartheid rule.

Social activist Gillian Schutte said High Court judge Mabel Jansen made the comments to her during an online conversation with her. 

Ms Schutte reposted the remarks on Facebook and Twitter, raising a storm of condemnation in social and traditional media.

South Africa has some of the world’s highest rates of violent crime, a scourge often blamed on poverty, joblessness and glaring income disparities, with minority whites still often better off despite 22 years of black majority rule.

Reported cases of rape have been on the decline, according to the Institute of Security Studies think-tank, with 43,195 reported in 2014-15, down 7.4% from 2008-09, though analysts say the crime often goes unreported.

“In their culture, a woman is there to pleasure them. Period,” Ms Jansen said in one of Ms Schutte’s reposts.

“I still have to meet a black girl who was not raped at about 12,” Ms Jansen said in another repost from Ms Schutte.

On Twitter on Sunday, Ms Jansen said, apparently in response to Ms Schutte’s reposts: “What I stated confidentially to somebody in a position to help has been taken completely out of context.”

Ms Schutte told the eNCA news channel she had previously sent the posts “to people in the legal profession to ask what could be done about the content of her utterances”.

Ms Jansen was quoted on the online news outlet News24 as saying: “I was referring to specific cases. It was within that context.”

She said she contacted Ms Schutte on Facebook because she thought the activist could give advice on assistance to vulnerable victims.

The Business Day newspaper said the Judicial Services Commission, which deals with complaints against judges, confirmed it was expecting a complaint regarding the posts.

A spokesman said he could not immediately comment but the commission would issue a statement shortly.

Many South Africans took to social media, demanding Ms Jansen’s removal from the bench.

In January, a storm of protest ensued after estate agent Penny Sparrow, a white member of the opposition Democratic Alliance party, referred to black people as “monkeys” in Facebook rant about littering at a beach.


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