Equal­ity cases ‘for all courts’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

ALL SA MAG­IS­TRATE’S courts can now sit on equal­ity mat­ters, Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and Con­sti­tu­tional De­vel­op­ment Jeff Radebe an­nounced yes­ter­day.

Radebe was of­fi­cially launch­ing the des­ig­na­tion of all mag­is­trate’s courts at the Bot­sha­belo Sta­dium in Free State. “With mag­is­trate’s courts now hav­ing ju­ris­dic­tion over th­ese mat­ters, all or­di­nary peo­ple ag­grieved can now ac­cess jus­tice closer to places where they re­side, at no cost.”

Up to now, equal­ity cases were heard only at high courts, which were of­ten hard to get to.

Radebe said the preva­lence of racism and hate speech, as in­di­cated in equal­ity court judg­ments, sig­ni­fied a need to raise the aware­ness of the Equal­ity Act.

Radebe said he would ap­proach the cab­i­net to in­clude HIV/Aids in the def­i­ni­tion of the pro­hib­ited grounds in the Equal­ity Act.

“Notwith­stand­ing the avail­abil­ity of com­pelling med­i­cal ev­i­dence as to how the dis­ease is trans­mit­ted, the prej­u­dices and stereotypes against HIV-pos­i­tive peo­ple still per­sist. The im­pact of dis­crim­i­na­tion against HIV-pos­i­tive peo­ple is dev­as­tat­ing.”

Radebe said the Jus­tice Col­lege had trained about 360 mag­is­trates and 436 clerks for the equal­ity courts.

Chair­man of the SA Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion Jody Kol­lapen said pow­er­less peo­ple would now be able to get ac­cess to jus­tice and the law.

The chair man of Le­gal Aid South Africa, Supreme Court of Ap­peal Judge Dun­stan Mlambo, said at the launch that the Equal­ity Act was un­der­utilised. – Sapa

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