Since 2016, Advocate Mokhine “Papi” Mosopa has spent several stints acting at the Gauteng Division of the High Court — where he has heard some pretty gruesome cases.
In 2017, he handed down four life sentences each in convicting three criminals for murder, rape and robbery with aggravated circumstances in an incident which shook the southern suburbs of Johannesburg.
The perpetrators were allegedly part of a 12-strong gang who had, at knife and gunpoint, raped two women at Rhodes Park in Kensington, after forcing their husbands to strip naked and enter the park’s lake, where they drowned. The couples had been strolling around the park in 2015 when accosted by the gang.
The gang then stole their victim’s clothes, jewellery, and a cellphone which they later sold for R320.
In delivering judgment, Judge Mosopa noted the perpetrators lack of remorse and their lying under oath: “[The perpetrators] have girlfriends and daughters but failed to treat the complainants as they would have treated their families.”
“After raping the women, they laughed and said their husbands were fools for swimming in the lake instead of swimming in a pool. It means they knew what they were doing.”
In Scheepers v Road Accident Fund, a matter heard in 2017, Mosopa gave short shrift to the plaintiff who was claiming loss of support following the death of her husband in a motor vehicle collision.
Noting that the plaintiff did not put forward any evidence of her current occupation, what type of lifestyle the couple had led before the accident and whether this had been affected following the death or how she had calculated her deceased husband’s income at R50 000 per month, Mosopa dismissed the case on the grounds that no order could be made. He ordered costs against Scheepers.
In doing so he noted that the “onus is on the Plaintiff to prove on a balance of probabilities that the deceased was contributing and provided the required support to her. Further that as a result of the death of the deceased she cannot support herself thus rendering her indigence…The Plaintiff failed to discharge the onus placed on her.”
Mosopa holds a B.Juris (1993) and an LLB (1995) form the University of Pretoria. At university he was a member of the South African Students Congress and a member of the ANC from 2009-2013. An advocate since 1996, he has also served as the presiding officer of the Private Security Industry Regulating Authority since 2000.
October 2018 Interview
October 2018 Interview Synopsis
Sometimes, all it takes is a sniff of blood for the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to start biting chunks out of candidates. Yet, when commissioners did so with Advocate Mokhine Joseph Mosopa they piled on with the frenzied glee of sharks on valium.
The issue related to Mosopa overturning a conviction and sentencing in a case involving the rape of an eleven-year-old girl, with a senior colleague on the Bench concurring. Members of the JSC appeared especially perturbed since the medical reports submitted confirmed that the injuries sustained by the survivor were consistent with rape.
Mosopa said while the evidence submitted to the magistrates’ court “confirmed the child was sexually assaulted” there was “unfortunately” no DNA evidence to confirm the accused’s guilt because the survivor had laid the complaint much later.
“We established the child was assaulted, but by whom?” Mosopa said. Mosopa said other factors he considered included the contradictions in the child’s testimony and pre-sentencing report requested by the accused which was conducted by a social worker. According to the report, the rape survivor told the social worker that the accused had not raped her and that she had been coerced by an aunt to accuse him of the rape.
Other commissioners followed up and Gauteng education minister Panyaza Lesufi asked Mosopa whether his “conscience was clear, clear, clear” on the overturning of the conviction and sentencing.
Mosopa said his conscience was clear and continued to maintain that he had applied the law to the evidence before him. Advocate Thandi Norman SC, one of the president’s four appointments to the JSC, later confirmed with Mosopa that he had upheld the conviction and sentencing in another rape incident with similar circumstances: the survivor had been eleven and the complaint was lodged almost a year after the incident was to have occurred. In that instance Mosopa had found enough evidence to confirm the conviction and sentencing.
Mosopa said he believed in judicial activism and that his understanding of judicial accountability entailed judges being openminded and transparent.
Commissioner CP Fourie, representing the attorneys’ profession, noted issues raised in comments made to the JSC by the General Council of the Bar (GCB). The GCB, noting the advocate’s experience in labour and criminal matters, felt that he needed more acting experience and exposure to a broader range of the law. The GCB also said that while Mosopa had “good linguistic skills” he “would benefit from proof-reading judgments” before handing them down.
Mosopa said these were both “fair comment” and that he sought to learn as much as possible in honing his adjudicating skills.