Bloemfontein - Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe officially launched the extension of magistrate court services to also handle equality cases.
"The designation of these services to the magistrates courts, demonstrate the government's resolve to provide all necessary protection and remedies to all victims of unfair discrimination, hate speech, and harassment," said the department in a statement.
The Equality Court serves as a mechanism through which those who have been discriminated against on the grounds of, among others, race, gender, age and religion can voice their complaints.
In the past, equality cases were heard at the high courts only, much to the virtual exclusion of the majority of the people of this country.
"Now all magistrates' courts in South Africa will officially be designated to hear such matters. With Magistrates courts now having jurisdiction over these matters, ordinary people aggrieved can now access justice closer to places where they reside, at no cost," explained the department.
The designation of equality courts was implemented in phases, starting with the roll-out of 60 courts in 2003 and subsequently159 courts in 2004.