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CHIEF JUSTICE NOMINEE HAS 'APPALLING' RECORD ON GENDER VIOLENCE AND RAPE

9/7/2011, 5:48 p.m.

Sept. 6 (GIN)--The proposed appointment of Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng to chief justice has raised a loud outcry among women's, labor and other rights groups who cite his "appalling" record on gender violence, marital rape and homosexuality, according to local media accounts.

The Southern African Litigation Centre, in a new report, raises serious doubts about Mogoeng's rulings, such as reducing a sentence for child rape, saying in one case that it was not clear if the 7-year-old girl was penetrated by a sexual organ or a finger, and that her injury was "not serious." Likewise, the sentence for the rape of a 14-year-old girl was reduced because "the accused was mindful of the victim's tender age and was careful not to injure her private parts except accidentally."

The SALC wrote: "It is hard to see how an injury to a 7-year-old which results from sexual abuse...can ever be classified as 'not serious'...Comments like this have no place in cases of child rape."

In another case, the judge suspended the sentence of a man who tied his girlfriend to his car's bumper and drove her at high speed over a gravel road. Despite abrasions on her stomach, thigh and knees, the boyfriend failed to take her for immediate medical treatment. Mogoeng called the proposed sentence of two years "excessive" because "by pleading guilty, the accused--a first-time offender--was showing remorse." Further, "he was provoked by the complainant...The sentence is too high by any standard."

A submission against the appointment by the Sonke Gender Justice Network and other gender rights groups pleaded: "Judge Mogoeng's are not befitting a judicial officer, let alone one who occupies a seat on the Constitutional Court...It is our view that he is not suitable for the position of chief justice of South Africa."

However, in a vote by the Judicial Services Commission, Mogoeng's appointment was approved by a vote of 16-7. President Jacob Zuma is reportedly reconsidering his chosen candidate due to widespread opposition.