The criminal justice system is racist and needs to be transformed urgently, according to newly-appointed Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu, who pointed out that our courts issue lighter sentences to white criminals. According to a Beeld report, she raised the issue after a parliamentary presentation by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) on violent crimes. Sotyu said ‘a white person or boer who drags a black farm worker behind his bakkie gets away with a fine of R10 000’, but that ‘a black man who murders a white farmer gets life imprisonment’. ‘It is racist politics,’ she concluded. ‘It is about time that our courts realise it is now the new SA.’
Prominent Judge Kathy Satchwell has warned that the South Gauteng High Court was slowly ‘creaking to a halt’ due to bad management. ‘No one with any experience of this High Court can dispute that the entire system has been creaking to a halt over the last few years,’ Satchwell says in a letter to Business Day published yesterday. A Mail & Guardian Online report notes that she added that justice spokesperson Tlali Tlali appeared to have ‘no real knowledge’ of the state of affairs at the court. Satchwell was responding to Tlali being quoted in The Sunday Independent newspaper as describing criticism by Judge Neels Claassen as ‘glaringly false’. This was after Claassen, who is the chairperson of the library committee, accused the government of ‘losing its moral high ground by projecting an attitude that the courts are the enemy’. Claassen has complained more than once about the state of the court library. In her letter, Satchwell said the allegations against Claassen were ‘neither accurate, true, nor well-founded’. ‘I am qualified to comment,’ she wrote, stating that the library was in bad condition, the cleaning was inadequate, as was air-conditioning in courtrooms. She added that the toilets were unuseable and files regularly went missing from court.
Full Mail & Guardian Online report