Rapist is free because honest magistrate got carried away

WHILE channel hopping I watched as one of the DStv stations showed a comedy of errors about the kind of bloopers that happen in the courtroom.

WHILE channel hopping I watched as one of the DStv stations showed a comedy of errors about the kind of bloopers that happen in the courtroom.

I sat transfixed as a judge railed - and eventually wailed - at an accused. When he was done ranting and raving about how the woman was a bad mother, whose child would not have been at odds with the law had she tried harder, he removed his glasses and sobbed.

A business contact tells me about a real-life case they are fighting to return to court - only it is no laughing matter.

If it doesn't exist yet, someone must coin a word to describe instances when good intentions go awry.

A few postponements later, a rape case finally comes before a Sebokeng magistrate and the sober man of the law, after careful consideration of all the facts, slaps the rapist with a deserved 20-year jail term.

Another legal hawk even ventures to opine that the September 22 2008 judgment was well-motivated and reasoned. But the trouble with magistrate MK Mkwentla is that he's too human. He pains easily.

Worked up, he continues to make his true feelings known to the criminal, letting fly with disparaging remarks about the lout. For good measure, he adds that the man, Kenneth Makau, has a "filthy penis".

As you read this, Makau walks the streets a free man and who knows, unhindered in his savagery to violate women. He's out because the North Gauteng high court arrived at the shocking decision that the magistrate's inappropriate remarks constituted an infringement on Makau's rights!

One cannot even begin to comprehend the trauma the victim is going through. The law indeed is an ass.

Now my contact and her colleagues in the anti-women abuse fraternity are making representations to various authorities, asking them to reverse the ruling.

In one letter to me they implore the directorate of public prosecutions, saying "this decision sets a dangerous precedent and can only reinforce the public's perception that the criminal justice system works in favour of the accused, rather than the victim".

Further, their letter to Retha Meintjies, an advocate, warns that research shows that one of the reasons eight out of nine people do not report being raped is that they do not believe justice will be done.

Now Mkwentla, who I'm told still dispenses the law in the Vaal township, might well be a father or someone's brother or uncle, but his humaneness proved to be his Achilles heel; it took over from the magistrate.

There's no doubt that the fight against crime needs people of his great qualities. But did he not allow his soft side to get ahead of his firm hand?

Makau might be regaling oafs of his ilk with the heroic tale of how he took on the system and won. But if he were in constant contact with the woman who tells me this story, he'd appreciate the pyrrhic nature of his victory.

Talk of The Great Phallic Unwashed!