I really feel sorry for judge Mogoeng Mogoeng (I’m sure it’s okay if I use the acronym Mogoeng2), who I am convinced did not ask (as an ordained priest he may have prayed) President Jacob Zuma to nominate him as the country’s next chief justice. Why then this fuss about his so-called anti-women stance in court rulings when there was no outcry over similar remarks made by a white Afrikaans magistrate?
To refresh your memories (if it is at all necessary) Mogoeng in 2002 intervened in the “heavy” sentence that Eric Mathibe received for dragging his Mafikeng girl friend home. City Press reported that the hourable judge earlier ruled that a woman, who was tied up with wire and dragged for 50m behind her boyfriend’s car, was asking for it.
In his review decision, Mogoeng said the fact that Mathibe’s girlfriend had “provoked” him was a mitigating factor in his actions. Also, the victim did not suffer “serious injuries”.
Well, in 2002 – in my weekly Daily Dispatch column – I wrote about Port Elizabeth magistrate Gert Steyn, who despite his lower rank legal position obviously saw himself as an expert on Hahlo’s Law of Husband and Wife. Let me recal what I wrote at the time when I aired my opinion about Steyn’s matrimonial advice to East London taxiderrmist Peterr Dreyer, when he (Steyn) acquited businessman Fred Burchell and his son, well known game farm owner Barry, of assaulting Dreyer.
Burchell junior’s (then estranged and now ex) wife, Kristen, later confided in me what had allegedly happened when Dreyer was caught inside her apartment by her estranged husband and and obviously estranged father-in-law. She later withdrew the charges and declined to testify. Obviously without her evidence the state did not have much of a chance in proving the assualt on Dreyer, who not only received 70 stitches but also psycological counseling after the incident in Mrs Burchell’s flat.
Without a case to prosecute, the honourable magistrate felt it, as Mogoeng did, his duty to give marital advice.
It is dangerous to sleep with another man’s wife, Steyn told Dreyer. Mogoeng would concur, I assume.
“If you play with fire, you can expect to be burned,” Steyn reportedly said.
My comment on this wad: “I’m not questioning Steyn’s acquital of the Burchells. But does the magistrate imply that someone who has an affair with the estranged wife of someone else has no criminal recourse if he is seriously assaulted? Seventy stitches and concussion are no mere burn wounds,” I added.
Is this a South African judicial view? God help us, if Steyn and Mogoeng are the examples of our justice system.
(By the way, my comment eventually landed in court when old man Burchell sued the Daily Dispatch and myself for defamation in the Grahamstown High Court.Burchell lost after judge Irma Schoeman (thank goodness a woman judge with savvy) ruled against him.)