Judicial racism spat ‘festers’

News24 – SAPA

Cape Town – Individuals finered for racism in the judiciary were feeling aggrieved about not being allowed to defend themselves, Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla was told on Tuesday. Parliament’s justice portfolio committe chair Fatima Chohan-Khota told the minister: “I can’t tell you how inundated I am – sometimes I think I am being harassed by people who had been finered during the racism allegations, but never got a chance to defend themselves.” The matter was continuing to fester, said Chohan-Khota. “To allow this to happen and to allow people to feel this way cannot be right.” Mabandla, who was briefing the committee on the department’s 2006 priorities, said there had been an “almost vulgar attempt” at the start of the squabble to “bring me into the thing”. Judges and lawyers were the best ones to deal with the matter as they would have first-hand knowledge of whether prejudice existed or not. “They are the ones who should deal with it, and I hope they still are,” said Mabandla. As for people accused “inappropriately”, the committee should pursue the matter as it saw fit, the minister added. The race row, late last year, was sparked by claims that Cape Judge-President John Hlophe had called attorney Joshua Greeff a “piece of white shit” after Greeff criticised the way one of Hlophe’s appointees, acting Justice Tandazwa Ndita, presided over a murder case in which he was involved. Hlophe had complained earlier of racism in the judiciary, leading to speculation he had been made the target of a smear campaign for speaking out. A ceasefire was declared when Chief Justice Pius Langa announced that none of the protagonists wanted any further action to be taken.

DA: no quick-fix against racism

News24 – SAPA

Cape Town – The report and recommendations on racism and sexism adopted by the Heads of court last week and released on Friday contains no silver bullet to eliminate racism and sexism in the judiciary, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Sunday. “While the Chief Justice will remain involved in the Western Cape to try and restore stability, the report makes clear that to combat racism and sexism within their ranks the judges are in for the long haul,” said justice spokesperson Sheila Camerer. The DA said the report was a workman-like document representing a substantial effort by the sub committee of judges who worked on it. “They had to wage through a mountain of submissions which have been called for by the Chief Justice.” “Perhaps significantly, Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe’s report on racism which started the ball rolling and which contained allegations of racism against several members of the Cape Bar and Bench gets short shrift.” The committee’s report came after Hlophe complained of racism in the judiciary in March. Last week a ceasefire was declared in the Hlophe race war when Langa said that none of the protagonists wanted any further action to be taken. The row was sparked by a claim that Hlophe had called attorney Joshua Greeff a “piece of white shit” after Greeff criticised the way one of Hlophe’s appointees, acting justice Tandazwa Ndita, presided over a murder case he was involved in. The DA added that here appeared to be little sympathy for Hlophe himself. “The report comments merely that it is necessary to point out that the allegations by Hlophe against individual judges and some members of the legal profession have in general been refuted by the persons concerned. “Save for this comment, the report does not deal with specific allegations.”