Soul City Institute Speaks Out Against the Attempted Depowerment of Judge Sisi Khampepe by the Jacob Zuma Foundation

5 July 2021 - The Soul City Institute (SCI) notes with concern the attempted depowerment of Judge Sisi Khampepe by the former President Jacob Zuma’s Foundation.

Judge Khampepe announced the sentencing of Jacob Zuma to a prison sentence of 15 months which the Jacob Zuma foundation denounced as “judicially emotional and angry and not consistent with our constitution.” The gendered attacks on Judge Khampepe are a clear demonstration of Patriarchy’s fundamental issue with the idea that womxn can be in positions of power and can be able to execute their duties without fear or favour.

Despite deliberate attempts by Feminists to fight for gender justice, patriarchy continues to entrench the idea that womxn are incapable of occupying powerful positions thus attempting to weaken womxn’s empowerment in the country. The depowerment of womxn is intentional and is very much linked to the belief and practice of patriarchy which subjugates womxn at various levels – political, economic, social, and cultural. The imposition of masculinity and femininity character stereotypes to the judgement passed by Judge Khampepe entrenches the iniquitous power relations between men and womxn. Society needs to be conscious of the fact that the behavior demonstrated by the Jacob Zuma Foundation is not about defending the individual (Jacob Zuma) but a clear demonstration of patriarchal control, exploitation, and oppression at the material and ideological levels of womxn’s labour, and sexuality, in the place of work, and in the society in general. It is a clear strategy to reduce Judge Khampepe a female from power, to deprive ‘her’ of the capacity or strength to do her work, rendering ‘her’ incapable or ineffective as a judge.

As an intersectional feminist organization, that is guided by rights to equality within the South African (SA) constitution. We support South Africa’s definition of and goals towards achieving gender equality, an ideal that is a fundamental tenet under the Bill of Rights of The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996). This ideal emerged from a long period of struggle for a democratic society that respects and promotes the rights of all its citizens irrespective of race, gender, class, age, disability, etc. (Bill of Rights, Sections 9.1 to 9.4).  As an organisation we recognize the multiple and interconnecting oppressions experienced by womxn through supremacies that include race, gender and class and seek to promote the enabling provisions for the human rights of womxn and girls as articulated in the Maputo Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Womxn in Africa, the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, and in alignment with Beijing Plus Twenty and Africa Agenda 2063, thus we condemn in the strongest the behavior demonstrated by the former president against Judge Khampepe and call on feminists to stand against such utterances that are made against her as this undermines what has been achieved in putting womxn in positions of power.

Issued by the Soul City Institute for Social Justice

For more information: Akona Zibonti, Social Media coordinator Soul City Institute for Social Justice.  Tel: 074 604 5799, email:

© 2023 Soul City Institute