May court date for former acting judge accused of sexually assaulting advocate
The case of sexual assault and harassment against a former acting judge was on Monday postponed by the Johannesburg magistrate’s court until May 16 to allow the accused to be furnished with further particulars.
The matter was in court after AfriForum’s private prosecution unit got involved when the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) initially decided not to prosecute. The victim, a female advocate and member of the Johannesburg Bar, approached the private prosecution unit for support.
AfriForum’s unit made representations to director of public prosecutions (DPP) in Gauteng Andrew Chauke in October last year, because no criminal proceedings had been instituted against the acting judge at the time.
The unit indicated in its letter that it would privately prosecute the acting judge should the NPA fail to reconsider its decision.
In February this year, the DPP’s office wrote to AfriForum’s private prosecution unit indicating that it would prosecute the accused.
“The complainant also approached the bar council, the Johannesburg Society of Advocates and the Legal Practice Council (LPC), but received little to no support from these professional bodies.
“However, after the private prosecution unit brought it to the attention of the LPC that the accused was being prosecuted, the LPC, almost as an afterthought, decided to institute disciplinary proceedings against the former acting judge,” AfriForum said.
AfriForum said the accused had applied to the judicial service committee to be considered for appointment as a permanent judge, but he withdrew his application after the prosecution was instituted.
The accused also, after the complainant laid the charges against him, opened a case of crimen injuria against her.
The NPA, however, indicated that it would not institute prosecution on that charge.
Phyllis Vorster, the prosecutor at AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, said the complainant in the matter had said that she had been advised by her colleagues to withdraw the matter as her actions could “amount to career suicide”.
Vorster said the complainant also indicated that she had been failed in all respects by the professional bodies that are tasked with investigating this type of conduct and that they had previously ignored or made light of the pain and trauma the accused caused her.
“As a practising advocate of the high court and a member of what is deemed to be a prestigious institution, the sequence of events has rather made me realise the reality of threats to my safety, career and livelihood.
“I am grateful for AfriForum’s intervention in the matter, because there is no other organisation that was resilient enough to stand against a system or specific individuals who are deemed to be invincible, or have the integrity and posture to protect those who are victims of the pandemic of gender-based violence in SA,” the complainant said.
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