[Media Statement] Judges Matter statement on sexual harassment investigation Into Eastern Cape Judge President
15 September 2023
Judges Matter notes the ruling by the Judicial Conduct Committee (dated 14 September 2023) to refer the sexual harassment complaint against Eastern Cape Judge President Mbenenge to a tribunal investigation.
This triggers section 19(4) of the Judicial Service Commission Act, which requires the JSC to advise the president of the need to suspend the judge pending the tribunal’s investigation.
A Judicial Conduct Tribunal investigation is set up for the most serious category of judicial misconduct, which is gross misconduct where the sanction could be impeachment of the judge and removal from office.
As Judges Matter indicated in our February 2023 statement (see here):
– This is an extremely serious complaint and must have an impact on the functioning of the Eastern Cape High Court division. A Judge President plays an important leadership role in the judiciary and the day-to-day management of the high courts in the province. There is therefore a need for the JSC to act swiftly.
– Sexual harassment is an ongoing problem in our country, and in the legal profession. Despite this, there is still no over-arching anti-harassment policy in the judiciary.
Alison Tilley, Judges Matter head says: “It is well past time that the judiciary adopt an anti-sexual harassment policy which will regulate the conduct of judicial officers, court staff and court users. The vital aim of this anti-sexual harassment policy should be to protect victims and combat this scourge.”
About Judges Matter:
Judges Matter is a civil society project dedicated to monitoring the South African judiciary. Based at the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit at the UCT Law Faculty, Judges Matter conducts applied research and advocacy to monitor the appointment of judges, their discipline for misconduct, and how the judiciary is governed and administered. More information is available on www.judgesmatter.co.za and on Twitter: @WhyJudgesMatter.
Alison Tilley | email@example.com
Zikhona Ndlebe | firstname.lastname@example.org