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Holding the weight of the law in her hands

Holding the weight of the law in her hands

Holding the weight of the law in her hands

“What does being a woman in the judiciary mean to you, what led you to go to the bench and do you have any thoughts on the importance of women and transformation in the judiciary.”

Hundreds and hundreds of years ago Themis: The Lady of Justice, was decreed in Greek mythology as the personification of divine order, law, natural law and custom. She is described as of good counsel and she was the organizer of the “communal affairs of humans”. Moses Finley remarked of Themis that she is untranslatable. She is a gift of the gods and a mark of civilized existence.

The above and many years of involvement in the justice system of South Africa convinces me that Justice has a feminine soul and she is a lady. This is the reason why women are important in the transformation of the judiciary and all law in South Africa. I have an appreciation of the reality that the world acknowledges the spirit of justice and does change but it remains the same. Weirdly enough, it is still an issue being a woman on the bench but not an issue to be a man on the bench. Judges have to do justice to the people; all people. It does not matter whether the judge is a man or a woman or the entity that is being adjudicated is a man or a woman.

Why do I have to, in 2016 and in a liberated country, answer the question what being a woman in the judiciary means and what the importance of woman in the judiciary is? It should be a given by now that justice means equality. May I suggest that you also ask what being a man in the judiciary in the post-constitutional era is? There should not be a difference.

 

About the Author

Lani Opperman is a Magistrate currently working at the Tshepong Domestic Violence Centre in Bloemfontein. The Tshepong Centre hears approximately 5000 applications a year and acts as community centre and court which provides legal, medical, physiological and police services for people affected by domestic violence.

Since starting her career as a Criminal Court Clerk she has obtained her B Iuris, LLB and two master’s degrees in law, graduating cum laude. Her first Master’s degree concentrated on sexual offences, child abuse and domestic violence and her second Master’s Degree concentrated on serious economic offences, business crimes and labour law.  She has served as an acting Judge of the Free State High Court in 2015 and 2016.

 

Comments (16)

  1. Avatar
    ELEANOR MARGUERITE STENCEL
    Dec 4, 2016

    i had brainswelling from September 1978 according to second marriage document brainswelling diagnosed plus minus 1986. Husband had me at house coma epileptic fits brainswelling not able to use toilet or speak or swallow no hospital no doctor no family no friends do not know what happened to our child throwing fits in corridor recent flashbacks recalling him trying to force food down my throat myself coma then while weak from brainswelling weak disorientated unable to speak or read more injuries head of femur fracture spineinjuries unbalanced pelvis jawinjury also much later diagnosed extreme trauma amnesia still getting flashbacks confused about time crying hysterical witnesses the year 2016. financial abuse he arranged divorce on false basis unknown to me i had brainswelling 1984 and then he told no doctor. later took me to court 1993 caused me to sign document at his attorney office. attorney said he will go to jail. keeping case outside court. i did not know 1993 why he will go to jail. i lost legal rights signing document maintenance very small no increase and medical aid. then drugged and raped no moneys person locked up and my ex do not pay medical bills for injuries assaults denies accountabiluty. arrives at civil court his attorney John Murray closr case. i am with probona getting nowhere. still memory problems flashbacks painproblems personality disorder due to trauma able to email now first time 2016 november mother left moneys running out. what must i do unable to become selfreliant financially. struggle to remember peoples faces and time perception confusion and falling around frequently accommodation wise unable to proof causuality of injuries. one witness came foreward to speak to temporary advocate. no closure at High court. ni cognitive therapy available from government hospitals

  2. Avatar
    ELEANOR MARGUERITE STENCEL
    Dec 4, 2016

    terrible ling term abuse by violent husband Michael JOHN STENCEL BRAININJURY COMA NO DR NO HOSPITAL RPILEPTIC FITS DIAGNOSED PLUS MINUS 1986.OTHER INJURIES WHILE HAVING BRAINEDEMA HEAD OF FEMUR FRACTURE UNBALANCED PELVIS JAWINJURY AND SPINEINJURY. ONGOING FIBANCIAL ABUSE HE DDENIES ACCOUNTABILITY VIA HIS ATTORNEYS. ARRANGED A SECOND DIVORCE ON FALSE BASIS 1984 UNKNOWN TO ME INJURIES DIAGNOSED 1990 ONWARDS 2008 MRI GOVERNMENT SCAN OF LOWER BACK.ABUSED DEFRAUDED MY FRAIL PARENTS AND SICKLY BROTHER HEARTBYPASS. FINANCIAL ABUSE EXTREME MARRIED BARBIEDOLL HE WANTED TO INTRODUCE TO ME AFTER ASSAULTS I STILL RECEIVE MEDICAL TREATMENTS FOR INJURIRS MY LATE MOTHER SUPPORTING ME FUNDS RUNNING OUT.

  3. Avatar
    ELEANOR MARGUERITE STENCEL
    Dec 4, 2016

    please get back to me soon drugged and raped on streets because o his attorney John milne murray rom durban knot in colon blooclot between heart and lung stroke more epileptic fits no proper legal aid help.suffered from severe amnesia doctors negligence cases too husband never told family members i could not think or use telephone brainswelling from September 1978 ddiagnosed maybe 1986 to be treated other injuries in between more trauma amnesia maybe 1981 No hospital no dr i was trying to crawl out of house but could not get to gate! where is God Yhvh this man still abusing me financially and medically.michael john stencel director Natal ELASTICS new germany Near Pinetown natal. Rents attorneys not accountable.

  4. Avatar
    ELEANOR MARGUERITE STENCEL
    Feb 11, 2017

    JUDGE LANI LEGAL AID FLOPPED CASE AT HIGH COURT OTHER MAGISTRATE ALSO ADVOCATE MR AVESH SUKDEO FAILED TO MEET WITH MY X AND MYSELF BECAUSE I HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN. NOW I AM WITH PROBONA CHEADLE THOMPSON TRYING TO PUT MY LONG TERM MEMORY TOGETHET AND SUPPORTGROUP HOSPITAL MY X DEFRAUDED MY PARENTS THEY COULD GET NO LEGAL HELP IN THEIR LIFETIME. NO SUPPORT SYSTEM AND I HAVE FLASHBACKS REGRESSING IN TRAUMA AND I AM ON A MERRY GO ROUND WITH PROBONAS AND MY XHUSBAND JUST GET AWAY WITH THE HELP OF ATTORNEY JOHN MURRAY. IN WHAT WAY IS THEIR PROTECTION FOR BRAININJURED PEOPLE LEGALLY THAT CANNOT ADDRESS THEIR LEGAL PROBLEMS. AT FIRST I DID NOT KNOW I NEED LEGAL ASSISTANCE. OR WHAT LEGAL ASSISTANCE COULD MEAN DUE TO LONGTERM BRAINSWELLING.

  5. Avatar
    ELEANOR MARGUERITE STENCEL
    Mar 8, 2017

    JUDGE LANI NO HOPE TO GET CLOSURE BECAUSE I HAVE NO MONEY PROBONA VERY SLOW SO I HAD A HEARTATTACK STROKE AND I AM SUFFERING ENDLESSLY AS A BRAININJURED PATIENT WITH COGNITIVE DISABILITIES I CAME TO THE CONCLUSION NO PROTECTION FOR BRAININJURED PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY.

  6. Avatar
    ELEANOR MARGUERITE STENCEL
    Oct 24, 2017

    Judge Lani I am with Probona lawyer Johannesburg I still regress in trauma flashbacks became totally hysterical falling on lawyers floor thinking mike stencel chairman of kearsney striders were assaulting me again staff picked me up from floor my exhusband made it my late mothers duty to pay for medical accounts caused by his assaults. He has an attorney John Milne Murray they both are deceitful sick people.

  7. Avatar
    ELEANOR MARGUERITE STENCEL
    Oct 24, 2017

    Dear Lani my friends showed me internet a person named Mike he boasts about essay for students domestic violence free college is this my exhusband known as Mike Stencel from Natal Elastics he is director

  8. Avatar
    ELEANOR MARGUERITE STENCEL
    Jan 12, 2018

    Thank you Lani I am with probona lawyer and hospital for assessments for high court cognitive problems and suffer from flashbacks post traumatic stress disorder frustration to find closure.

  9. Avatar
    Eleanor Stencel
    Jun 8, 2018

    His second. Wife and life he continued as if he. Had never done anything bad in his. Life

  10. Avatar
    Eleanor
    Jan 31, 2019

    Dear Lani i am still being legally abused by my exhusband director from Natal Elastics Pinetown i had several strokes CVA due to his greediness and Claudia his barbydoll and his lawyer John Murray Durban i am with attorney and advocate probona. he abused me since 1971. he refuses to pay medical bills for assaults. braininjury jawinjury pelvis injury head of femur fractire spineinjury. Mike Stencel and Claudia are expert fraudsters and liers and defrauded my family. my brother is under duress at present having to support me or else i will go to the street again to be drugged and raped by another sick individual. Mike Stencel and Claudia are from Kearsney Striders

    • Judges Matter
      Judges Matter
      Feb 1, 2019

      Please note that Judges Matter is a coalition who monitor the judiciary and the judicial appointment process. As such, we are not an advice office and unfortunately, we cannot give advice or answer questions of substantive law.For legal assistance you can contact Legal Aid on 0800 110 110 or visit their website: legal-aid.co.za

      • Avatar
        Eleanor Stencel
        Jun 13, 2019

        Dear Lani several medical doctors have neglected to diagnose the braininjury husband Michael John Stencel abuses me financially not paying medical bills I with help of friends attach him and Claudia Mortsiefer photo derived from Internet these two defrauded my frail elderly gullible parents and my brother who supports me a Trust was made up by late mother to help me as a braininjury patient.i had 3 different strokes him abusing me at Durban civil court. Eleanor Stencel

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