Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola announced the provisional suspension of acting Regional Magistrate, Kholeka Bodlani, at Umlazi while she undergoes an investigation into her fitness to hold office.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Minister says that Bodlani was allocated to the Sexual Crimes Offences Court to hear cases of children who were raped by adults. The minimum prescribed sentence for these offences being life imprisonment.
The Department says, “In almost all the finalised cases which were assessed, Ms Bodlani imposed sentences where the accused were cautioned or strongly reprimanded or wholly suspended. The suspended sentences she imposed were found to have been both incompetent and incomplete,”
In November 2019, the Sunday Times published an article highlighting some of the shocking rulings by Bodlani. These included:
- A father who raped his 11-year-old daughter was given a wholly suspended sentence as Bodlani says she had to show mercy on the “loving father”
- A 53-year-old man who raped a 10-year-old girl twice was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, of which half was suspended
- A man who was convicted of attempted murder after a 6-year-old boy was allegedly stabbed multiple times. Experts in the medical field said that the man was mentally fit to understand the court proceedings. However, Bodlani found him to be unfit for trial following testimonies from relatives and allegedly allowed him to go home, instead of making it compulsory for him to access psychiatric help.
- A man convicted for the rape of a 15-year-old girl was sentenced to four years imprisonment which was wholly suspended.
Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery said they are also investigating other matters besides the judgements in question.