Mag­is­trate Mari von Hoesslin is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in­side and out­side the court­room

Public Sector Manager - - CONTENTS -

Ad­min­is­ter­ing jus­tice to all peo­ple alike with­out fear, favour or prej­u­dice, in ac­cor­dance with the Con­sti­tu­tion and the law, is what is ex­pected of mag­is­trates and judges. How­ever, it is heart­en­ing to know that there are le­gal of­fice bear­ers who are com­mit­ted not only to these val­ues, but also to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of or­di­nary peo­ple through their work.

Hav­ing a car­ing heart and al­ways be­ing con­sid­er­ate of the in­ter­ests of her fel­low man, es­pe­cially the vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in so­ci­ety, are what make Mari von Hoesslin (37) stand out. Von Hoesslin has been de­liv­er­ing sound judg­ments as a mag­is­trate at the Palm Ridge Mag­is­trates Court in Ekurhu­leni since Au­gust 2014. Af­ter com­plet­ing her LLB de­gree at the Uni­ver­sity of the Free State,Von Hoesslin was ad­mit­ted as an at­tor­ney on 6 May 2008. In 2010 she es­tab­lished her own law firm, M von Hoesslin At­tor­neys, as a way of broad­en­ing her hori­zons in the le­gal field. Even though the prac­tice was do­ing well, she still longed for some­thing that would en­able her to make a dif­fer­ence in so­ci­ety. “My long-term goal was al­ways to be in pub­lic ser­vice and that is why I joined the Palm Ridge Mag­is­trate's Court,” she said.

Her love of chil­dren and her high

re­gard for fair­ness and equal­ity have en­sured that her hard work makes a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in chil­dren’s lives.

“When I was work­ing at a Chil­dren’s Court, three lit­tle ones ap­peared be­fore me wear­ing clothes that were too small for them and full of holes, in the mid­dle of win­ter. As a mother, I wished I could foster all three chil­dren and take care of them. I re­alised, how­ever, that I can­not be ev­ery­thing to ev­ery­one and I had to take a step back and place them in a lov­ing and car­ing home with­out over­step­ping the line. In the end, I did a cloth­ing col­lec­tion through my child’s school for these chil­dren and handed the items over to the so­cial worker. She sent me pic­tures of the kids wear­ing the new, warm clothes with big smiles on their faces. Get­ting con­fir­ma­tion from the so­cial worker that these chil­dren were now be­ing taken care of gave me such peace of mind,” she said.

This one good deed in­spired Von Hoesslin to con­tinue to assist un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren by col­lect­ing clothes which are handed to the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers in the Chil­dren’s Court to assist the needy chil­dren who pass through the courts on a daily ba­sis.

Be­ing kind-hearted does not mean the le­gal ea­gle takes lightly her job of pro­tect­ing the com­mu­nity. She still de­liv­ers sound judg­ments and locks up crim­i­nal of­fend­ers if war­ranted.

“As a mag­is­trate in the crim­i­nal court, I deal with tri­als on a daily ba­sis, at­tend to for­mal bail ap­pli­ca­tions, set trial dates and en­sure proper case-flow man­age­ment,” she added.

Fi­nal­is­ing court cases that in­volve chil­dren who are in con­flict with the law, in a way that pro­vides re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion rather than only pun­ish­ment, stands out for Von Hoesslin.“It is my duty to en­sure that these chil­dren do not end up in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, but rather get the nec­es­sary help, counselling and train­ing they need to be­come bet­ter adults,” she said.

“My goal is to be the best mag­is­trate I can pos­si­bly be, and to be an ac­tive ci­ti­zen. I think it is im­por­tant to get in­volved in out­reach pro­grammes in your com­mu­nity,” she said, giv­ing as an ex­am­ple the im­por­tance of ed­u­cat­ing mem­bers of the com­mu­nity on court ser­vices and how not to be in con­flict with the law.

Be­ing a mag­is­trate re­quires one to be a stu­dent for life as mag­is­trates have to keep up with case law and leg­is­la­tion. It takes a lot of hard work and com­mit­ment, said Von Hoesslin.

“Peo­ple should not ex­pect this to be a glam­orous po­si­tion as you will al­ways be a pub­lic ser­vant with the ex­pec­ta­tion that you do your job in a pro­fes­sional man­ner,” she added.

A new R282 mil­lion court build­ing was opened in Palm Ridge two years be­fore Von Hoesslin joined the team. At the time, it was one of the largest court struc­tures to be erected in a pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­nity.With its 33 court rooms, it was part of govern­ment’s drive to im­prove court in­fra­struc­ture, mod­ernise the jus­tice sys­tem and en­sure im­proved ac­cess to jus­tice for all. A mag­is­trate ad­ju­di­cates crim­i­nal and civil cases in court.They have the power to ac­quit, con­vict and sen­tence the ac­cused per­son if found guilty of com­mit­ting an of­fence. Mag­is­trates may also pass judg­ments in civil mat­ters. Mag­is­trates are ap­pointed by the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and Con­sti­tu­tional De­vel­op­ment on the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Mag­is­trates Com­mis­sion.

In order to qual­ify as a mag­is­trate, you need to have an LLB de­gree as a minimum re­quire­ment.

Mag­is­trate Mari von Hoesslin is mak­ing adif­fer­ence.

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