Tsakane residents to benefit from new court

Friday, March 8, 2013

Brakpan – Community members in Tsakane will no longer have to travel 17km to get access to basic justice, as services such as family law and violent crimes will be dealt with at their door step -- thanks to the new magistrate’s court.

Speaking at the opening of the court on Friday, which coincides with Human Rights Month and International Women’s Day, Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe urged residents in the East Rand to use their new magistrate’s court to report crimes, especially sexual crimes and those perpetrated against women and children.

Radebe said the country needed a concerted effort from communities, NGOs and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster in addressing the shocking violent crimes in society.

“As government, we will take decisive action against any violator of our laws and we call on all the people of Tsakane and other areas to ensure that we help bring the perpetrators to book so that justice is … dispensed in all criminal and civil matters,” said Radebe.

He said cases such as those of Anene Booysen, where women suffered brutal human rights violations, will not be tolerated.

He said the launch of the court was part of government’s resolve to defeat this social scourge.

Radebe said his department would take a harsh and uncompromising stand against the heinous crime of rape and violence against women and children. 

For this reason, he would be introducing 58 Sexual Offences Courts, which in the past have shown high conviction rates compared to ordinary regional courts.

Sites have been identified where these courts will be launched, including in Gauteng, where such matters will be heard.

The Sexual Offences Courts will start operating next month and should be fully operational by September, said Radebe. The courts were scrapped in 2006.

“Courts such as that of Palm Ridge have been identified to host such specialised sexual offences cases, with minor adaptations in line with international standards to provide a victim-friendly environment and CCTV testifying rooms.

“This is because as government, we take human rights violations and the rape of women and children seriously, hence the need for Sexual Offences Courts to be reopened,” said Radebe.

He called on the communities to ensure that the struggle for justice against the perpetrators of violence and abuse against women and children was not limited to the time it is highlighted, such as during the 16 Days of Activism, but rather that it became an all-year campaign.

The new Tsakane court boasts four court rooms which will be used for criminal matters, civil matters, equality matters, family law and regional court.

There are also four offices for prosecutors, four offices for magistrates, one cash hall, one domestic violence office, civil clerk office, maintenance office, office for Legal Aid South Africa, manager’s office and three holding cells.

Currently, the court is operating as a branch court of Brakpan but it will, as from next month, render full services, including regional court services. It will also deal with over 50% of matters which were held in Brakpan.

“This means that now services will be rendered at your doorstep. This also means the work load and congestion at the Brakpan Court will be halved and that the workload in this new court will equally not be as congested as the Brakpan Court was before we built this new court.

“So it is a win-win situation for both those utilising either the Brakpan Court or this new court that we are launching today,” said Radebe.

He was accompanied by Justice Raymond Zondo of the Constitutional Court and MEC of Community Safety, Nonhlanhla Mazibuko.

Zondo reminded the court staff to serve the people of Tsakane with dignity.

“If we remind ourselves that we are the servants of the people, we will change our mind-set and appreciate that anyone who comes to the court for assistance or to testify must be able, as he or she leaves the court house, to say, ‘I got justice and I was treated with respect and I was helped’,” said Zondo.

The minister also made reference to the case of Mozambican national, Mido Macia, who was tied to the back of a police van and later died in custody.

Radebe called on all those in law enforcement roles to desist from criminal acts as it did not help to inspire confidence in the criminal justice system of the country.

During the event, Radebe also signed contracts with civil society organisations that are grantees of the Access to Justice and Promotion of Constitutional Rights Programme, such as the Foundation for Human Rights.

An amount of R6.8 million will be made available to civil society organisations for this purpose. – SAnews.gov.za