KZN magistrate suspended over lenient sentences for rapists

Kholeka Bodlani has made headlines in recent months over her handling of rape cases, with critics calling her judgement severely impaired.

Picture: SAPS/facebook.com

JOHANNESBURG - A KwaZulu-Natal magistrate who handed out shockingly lenient sentences to rapists has now been suspended.

Kholeka Bodlani has made headlines in recent months over her handling of rape cases, with critics calling her judgment severely impaired.

In one of her latest cases, she imposed only a suspended sentence on a man who had sexually assaulted a six-year-old girl.

At the time, she said that the child had shown no obvious signs of trauma.

Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery: "She has now been suspended by the minister pending the completion of an investigation against her. In this case, they were investigating the judgments, they've also been investigating other matters, so it hasn't just been limited to that."

In November, the Sunday Times reported that about 18 cases in which Bodlani presided had been sent on special judicial review following complaints of incompetence against her.

Other judges were called to intervene in a pretrial hearing to test a man's fitness to stand trial, in which Bodlani found that the man accused of raping a 15-year-old girl was gay.

While two psychiatrists and a psychologist found that he could understand court proceedings, Bodlani commented that "he was not normal".

She said that the suspect could not be interested in females because he carried a bag, did household chores and styled his hair in a particular way.

Alison Tilley from the group Judges Matter has welcomed Bodlani's suspension.

"I think it was a long time coming and certainly with media coverage it has put some pressure on the Magistrate's Commission to move and I think it's a real victory for society."

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