Veteran East London magistrate Eugene Moss hangs up his robe

Eugene Moss said retiring after 40 years as a magistrate was an emotional and weird feeling.
Eugene Moss said retiring after 40 years as a magistrate was an emotional and weird feeling.
Image: 123RF/stockstudio44

An East London magistrate who spent 40 years prosecuting and putting criminals behind bars is looking forward to the next chapter of his life.

Eugene Moss, 60, started as a prosecutor and worked his way onto the bench as a regional court magistrate. Moss, who is originally from Komani, ends his career at the Mdantsane court.

He will be hanging up his black and red robe on March 31, after which he will dust off his guitar and warm up his vocal cords to focus on his passion for music.

Moss, a University of Pretoria alumnus, started off as a prosecutor in 1979 and became a magistrate in 1990.

"It's an emotional issue and a weird feeling. I don't know what it's going to be like not to put that gown on ever again. But I am looking forward to pursuing my other interests.

"It's been a wonderful journey. It's a proud thing to be part of the judiciary. When I hang up that gown, it will obviously be a huge thing in my life. I have had good times in court, especially the Mdantsane court. I have grown really fond of the people of Mdantsane and I really hope that in a small way I have contributed in making their lives better and safer."

Moss said discipline and respect go a long way in addressing many of the challenges gripping the country, especially in the justice system, and he cited examples of parents who were terrified of their children, pupils assaulting teachers and youths raping the elderly.

"That can be solved if we instil proper discipline and respect at home, in schools and the courts. We may have a different situation."

Moss believes the parole system needs to be revamped.

"We've seen the headlines about the little girl in Cape Town who was killed by somebody who was on parole. That is not an isolated case. We see that happen here all the time. If we had a system where people were actually serving their sentences, we may actually prevent a lot of serious crimes.

"The whole idea of curbing crime is not as much imposing these long sentences as trying to create the knowledge that if you commit a crime, you will be caught, prosecuted and be properly sentenced."

He said that knowledge would curb the "tsunami of crime" in the country. Moss said emphasis needed to be put on the interest of the victims of crime in sentencing of perpetrators.

"The best part in my career was most probably prosecuting in the regional court. It's a great exercise of the mind. It takes hard work and preparation, and I met great people in the process."

Moss also trained aspirant judges in Eastern Cape and in Western Cape, a highlight of his career. He said the bench afforded him an opportunity to learn something new about the law every day.

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