Jaji appears tough on rape and corruption, but appears a stranger to brevity in his judgment writing and speeches.
In 2014, while acting at the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein he refused to grant a permanent stay of prosecution for an alleged offence which had taken place between 2001 and 2003.
In his reasoning Jaji noted that corruption was a “cancer to the body of South Africa since time immemorial” and that on “a daily basis, the state from different departments, provinces and municipalities is strenuously faced to contend with these types of matters. These involve officials and other closely connected individuals. Whistle-blowers and upright officials have not escaped the wrath of those involved in these activities. Clearly, the public interest is that those involved should be prosecuted and these matters be disposed of in open courts.” He awarded costs against the applicant. Leave to appeal was also denied by Jaji, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court.
Also in the Free State High Court Jaji refused to reduce a life sentence handed down to the appellant who had been convicted of three rapes. The rapist had “raped his own child more than once and she is mentally challenged. Appellant has no remorse; he believe[d] what he did was right. His low intelligence is immaterial, because he could still put on his clothes; know basic things about life and the question is why wouldn’t he know that it is wrong to have sexual intercourse with one’s daughter. The court a quo correctly believed that injustice would result if life imprisonment was not imposed,” Jaji observed in his judgment.
He went further: “Indeed a rape of the child deserves full maximum sentence permitted by law… [The magistrate’s court] correctly highlighted the victim’s rights, views of broader community, courts having to show the community that rape is unacceptable and that all rapes deserve exemplary punishment.”
Jaji’s propensity for purple, overflowing prose is not limited to judgments. In a speech given at a National Association of Democratic Lawyers event he was quick to affirm the Judicial Service Commission’s “interpretation” of the Constitutional requirement that the judiciary broadly reflect the demographics of South Africa.
“Please, can we be honest and agree that there is only one interpretation of Section 174(2) in our context, the one followed by the JSC.,” he said. “By advocating for an interpretation of Section 174(2) which is inimical to the values of the Constitution, surely you must expect a response from the victims of legalised discrimination.”
If only the JSC was as sure of its interpretation of Section 174(2) as Jaji — the body has flip-flopped on a consistent interpretation for years.
Jaji worked as an attorney from 1996-2010, he has acted as a magistrate in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. His previous judicial acting experience included at the Free State High Court (2014) and in Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth (2017).
Jaji holds a B.Proc and an LLB from the University of Durban Westville and an MSc in Transport and Maritime Management from Antwerp University in Belgium.
October 2017 Interview:
October 2017 Interview Synopsis:
Commissioner Sifiso Msomi, representing the attorney’s profession on the Judicial Service Commission, asked Patrick Jaji which recent Constitutional Court judgment “stands out for you? Why?” — and for him to explain how this developed South African jurisprudence.
Jaji said the Cash Paymaster Services judgment handed down last year, which required the social development minister to detail the plans she would put in place to ensure the smooth dispensing of social grants in an attempt to avert a crisis of corruption and catastrophic executive dysfunction.
“It dealt with what is close to me – judicial activism,” said Jaji. He added that the “pro-active manner of the ruling — telling the executive to do: one, two and three… stands out for me in terms of jurisprudence”.
Jaji admitted to being a judicial activist because “our constitution demands it, to make a clean break from the past… judges must be judicial activists… but they must not be seen to be over-reaching”.
Jaji said the role of a judicial officer was to be “accountable to their community” especially now that the judiciary had become “the bastion of hope” for people.
Commissioner CP Fourie, representing the attorneys’ profession, asked Jaji to comment on a recently handed down summary judgment he had written that contained “some sentences [which] are not entirely complete and some sentences [which] do not have verbs in it.” The candidate expressed “shock” and suggested that a draft copy may have been emailed to him.
The commission did not delve too deeply into Jaji’s judgment writing style — perhaps they were impressed by his speech-writing style supporting the JSC’s interpretation of Section 174(2) of the Constitution. Commissioner Narend Singh of the Inkatha Freedom Party joked that the views expressed in the speech “should hold you in good stead since you are at the JSC”.
Jaji said he dealt with his acting stints and the writing of judgments with relative ease, despite initially being “rattled”. His interview was, similarly, a breeze.