Equality cases ‘for all courts’
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