Magistrate in hot water

21 August 2013 - 02:40 By AARTI J NARSEE
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

A magistrate who told a convicted rapist that he would be able to rape fellow prisoners is facing an inquiry that could lead to his being impeached.

The Magistrates' Commission and Gauteng Regional Court president Modibede Djaje received complaints about Krugersdorp magistrate Herman Badenhorst's comment made while he was sentencing Neo Mulaudzi last month.

The court transcript quotes him as saying: "In prison, we cannot prevent you committing rape. You can always rape the other inmates if you are so inclined but at least you will not be close to children and will not be able to rape children."

Badenhorst found Mulaudzi, 22, guilty of raping a 13-year-old boy who had been waiting for a school bus and of robbing him of R10.

In a complaint last week, NGOs Sonke Gender Justice and Just Detention International described Badenhorst's comment as "deeply alarming". The organisations are not asking for his dismissal.

Sasha Gear, programmes director for Just Detention International, said: "We hope for an opportunity for reform and sensitisation on these issues. These sorts of views are not isolated; it is common amongst members of society and others in our criminal justice system ."

Yesterday, Magistrates' Commission secretary Danie Schoeman said that he had not yet seen the complaint but it would form part of the investigation that was launched after DA prisons spokesman James Selfe made a complaint last month.

Schoeman said that the commission would meet at the end of this nonth to decide whether Badenhorst was guilty of misconduct and, if so, what action to take.

The organisations said Badenhorst's statement indicated that he held prejudicial views of prisoners, called into question his objectivity when dealing with sexual offenders, and raised concern about his ability to uphold the law.

"The statement ... sends the signal that sexual violence is 'okay' as long as it occurs within the confines of a prison," the complaint reads.

It is clear from the court transcript that Badenhorst was troubled by the case.

When sentencing Mulaudzi he said: "As far as the rape of the child is concerned, over the weekend I was thinking about you. So, I lie and think at night, I wonder what kind of sentence I should impose for this guy."

The boy said Mulaudzi held a broken bottle to his chest and demanded his cellphone and, after discovering he did no t have one, raped him in a nearby stormwater drain .

Mulaudzi, who had previous theft and robbery convictions, claimed that he had been "framed".

Badenhorst sentenced him to 28 years behind bars.