New courts bring jus­tice closer to the peo­ple

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Sibu­sisiwe Mzila

The de­PArT­menT of Jus­tice is build­ing new mag­is­trates’ courts and high courts across the coun­try, giv­ing bet­ter ac­cess to jus­tice ser­vices.

res­i­dents of Plet­ten­berg Bay in the Western Cape only have a few months to wait be­fore they will be served by a new mag­is­trates’ court, do­ing away with the 64-kilo­me­tre jour­ney from Plet­ten­berg Bay to Knysna to ac­cess jus­tice ser­vices.

The new court is nec­es­sary be­cause the Western Cape has the heav­i­est case load on its district court rolls. It cur­rently has 45 000 cases, with Gaut­eng fol­low­ing with 36 000 cases.

Deputy Min­is­ter of Jus­tice John Jef­fery re­cently vis­ited the site to in­spect con­struc­tion of the court.

“I am happy with the progress. Ev­ery­thing seems to be work­ing ac­cord­ing to sched­ule,” he said.

“Plet­ten­berg Bay had a pe­ri­odic court which only dealt with mi­nor crimes. Now it is go­ing to have a fully fledged court that will en­able mem­bers of the public to re­port se­ri­ous crimes.”

The build­ing will have 12 court rooms. There will be two sex­ual of­fences court­rooms, four crim­i­nal courts, two re­gional and two fam­ily court­rooms as well as a civil and an equal­ity court. Over 30 000 peo­ple are ex­pected to be served by the new court.

It will also fea­ture state-of the-art se­cu­rity sys­tems, a se­cure ac­cused of­fload­ing area lead­ing to the court­rooms, of­fices for mag­is­trates and pros­e­cu­tors, child main­te­nance and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence fa­cil­i­ties, am­ple public wait­ing ar­eas and park­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

Pro­vin­cial high courts

In to­tal, South Africa has 763 mag­is­trates’ courts and 13 high courts. Of th­ese, 45 new courts were built in the past 20 years, mostly in pre­vi­ously un­der­ser­viced ar­eas.

The new Lim­popo High Court opened the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year. The Mpumalanga High Court, also the first high court for the prov­ince, is sched­uled for com­ple­tion dur­ing this fi­nan­cial year.

An­other new mag­is­trates’ court to be com­pleted this year is in Dim­baza, Eastern Cape, which is also be­ing up­graded from a pe­ri­odic court.

In Gaut­eng, the Jus­tice De­part­ment is up­grad­ing the Mamelodi Mag­is­trate’s of­fice from a branch court to a fully fledged court. And in KwaZulu-Na­tal, the Port Shep­ston mag­is­trates’ court will be com­pleted in Septem­ber.

Over the medium term, the De­part­ment has al­lo­cated R6.2 bil­lion for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment and main­te­nance, prop­erty leases, mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices and ac­com­mo­da­tion charges across the coun­try.

The new court build­ing in Plet­ten­berg Bay will do away with the 64-kilo­me­tre jour­ney to Knysna.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.