My South Africa, my land, my home, how you are letting down your children! South Africa is the place I call home, I smile when people ask me where I am from, because then I can say with pride: “I am from this beautiful country we call South Africa”. We have beautiful towering mountains, sexy flowing rivers, oceans that entice and views that are second to the view that Gods have, yet we have a deep, dark secret. Yes, we are hiding our skeletons in the closet and of late it seems that someone has opened the closet door and our laundry is being aired. I am referring to how we regard our children, how we regard injustices committed to our children and especially children who survive sexual violence.
We voted and appointed our president as our leader, to serve our best interest, to safeguard us against injustices but most importantly to make decisions that serve those who are unable to protect themselves. Children are that group of people that are not able to protect themselves; they need adults to safeguard them, to protect their interests and to make decisions that are benevolent for their future.
In light of our president’s nomination of constitutional court judge Mogoeng Mogeong as the new Chief Justice, I am worried about what this means for our children and women. Are we saying that the rights of children and women do not matter anymore? How detrimental is this to our future as a country?
The controversies surrounding the sexual assault cases that Mogoeng has presided over are alarming to say the least (read more at http://mg.co.za/article/2011-09-02-mogoengs-shocking-child-rape-rulings). Not only has this man reduced sentences for men who have committed unspeakable acts of violence against children and women, but he has also failed to qualify his rulings.
His appointment, should it happen, will place him as the second most powerful man in the country, giving him authority to make final decisions about the management and functioning of all our courts. His rulings will set unwanted precedence over decisions that will affect the state of our children and women who are victims of sexual violence. What is to stop other judges from following in his footsteps once he is appointed? What is to stop him petitioning for changes to the Sexual Offences Act? How can we, as a nation, allow this to happen?
I am disappointed in my president’s choice of candidacy for the position and thus I stand in support of civil society organisations that are taking a stand against Mogoeng’s appointment as Chief Justice. We need leadership that advances the gains made by civil society organisations in protecting and serving our children; we need leadership that upholds our Constitution and human rights framework. We need to grow people who do not tolerate injustices committed against those who are defenceless and we need men who speak up against men who commit violence against women and children. Mogoeng is clearly not that man and appointing him as Chief Justice will only be detrimental to our society. I wish for change, I want to act for change, I want to urge you to be an agent of change and most importantly I want to see the change. I am craving a society where we protect our children, where children can be allowed to just be children!