Keynote Address by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon JH Jeffery, MP, at the Official Opening of the Goodwood Additional Court, Goodwood, Cape Town, 18 August 2017
Programme Director, Adv Mohamed,
Mayoral Committee Members, Cllr Raelene Arendse, Cllr Siyabulela Mamkeli and Cllr J P Smith,
Regional Court President, Mr Langa,
Chief Magistrate, Mrs Helen Alman, and members of the judiciary,
Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv De Kock, and members of the NPA,
Municipal Manager, Mr Achmat Ebrahim, and members of the executive and management of the City of Cape Town,
Members of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the SAPS and the Department of Correctional Services,
Members of the administration of the Department and the City responsible for the operation of the Court,
Ladies and gentlemen
There is an age-old legal maxim that “justice delayed is justice denied.”
Now one could very well argue that the maxim is so frequently used that it’s almost become a sort of cliché, but – as is generally the case with most clichés – it is indeed true.
Having additional capacity and an additional court means being able to finalise cases more speedily and effectively.
It means freeing up other courts by reducing the number of criminal cases being placed on those court rolls.
Ultimately a means ensuring fair and speedy access to justice.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has decided to focus on individual municipalities - on a case-by-case basis - to assess the viability of a partnership in relation to municipal matters that require court attention.
So if the normal district Magistrates’ Courts in a particular court centre has an extremely high workload pertaining to municipal-related matters, an additional Magistrates’ Court can be established to help deal with such matters.
In terms of the Constitution, the judicial authority is vested in the courts and all organs of State, including municipalities, must through legislative and other measures assist and protect courts in order to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness of the courts.
The municipality has an obligation to promote a safe and healthy environment and it must strive, within its financial and administrative capacity, to achieve this objective.
National and Provincial Government in turn have a constitutional obligation to support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and to perform their functions.
Therefore, additional courts such as the one we are launching today are an effective way of dealing with traffic related offences as well as municipal by-law cases.
The Department therefore focuses on individual municipalities on a case-by-case basis to assess the viability of a partnership to establish such additional courts.
The objectives of the additional courts are thus:
- To deal more effectively with municipal by-law matters at certain courts where the infrastructure is either insufficient or over-burdened;
- To provide full-time courts dedicated to traffic and municipal by-law cases;
- To ensure that municipal by-laws are enforced effectively;
- To assist Magistrates’ Courts in reducing the number of criminal cases being placed on the court rolls; and
- To provide fair and speedy justice services to all.
The factors which are taken into consideration when deciding to establish an additional court include the quantity of traffic-related cases allowed per week on the court rolls of the court, the number of court days allocated for traffic offences, the number of cases withdrawn and warrants of arrest issued, the number of warrants of arrest outstanding; and any potential growth in the backlog of warrant of arrest cases.
Statistics in terms of municipal by-law cases such as the number of cases and summonses per year and any backlogs in cases are also taken into account.
The City of Cape Town is to be commended as it has been a frontrunner in this regard and within the greater City of Cape Town Metro a total of 11 Additional Courts have been established - which includes the Goodwood Additional Court which we are opening today.
We have representatives here today from the City of Cape Town as well as various role-players from within the criminal justice system, such as the SAPS, the NPA, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of Correctional Services.
Some of us here today are from national government and some are from local government, but I think it is important to stress that we all really want the same thing, namely to build safe and secure communities.
With regards to Goodwood in particular, I was appalled to read about a 12-year old boy who was recently stabbed 33 times while playing soccer here, in a park, in Goodwood.
I think it is every parent’s worst nightmare and we all want to wish the boy a speedy recovery after having to undergo emergency surgery. Those of us who work in the area of criminal justice must remember that we serve the public, and we serve those in our communities who are often victims of crime.
Partnerships between us – such as we see here today between the City of Cape Town and the national Department of Justice and Constitutional Development – are crucial if we want to build safer communities and if we want to turn the tide on crime and violence.
Many of you may know of the Rationalisation of Courts and the Re-demarcation of Magisterial District Process where our Department is busy aligning court districts to municipal boundaries.
The aim is to ensure that we have courts in all municipal areas and to ensure that courts are near to our people and thus to ensure easier access to justice services. The process has been completed in 4 provinces, being Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
The Northern Cape and Free State provinces are in the process of being finalised, where after KZN, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape will follow.
The 11 magisterial districts located within the Greater City of Cape Town Metro are not significantly affected by the municipal boundaries therefore we foresee that the additional courts, as you have them now, will most likely continue to operate as they are currently operating.
These 11 Magisterial Districts each have an additional court established to adjudicate traffic and municipal by-law cases within the respective areas of jurisdiction of these magisterial districts. The 11 magisterial districts are: Atlantis, Bellville (including Parow), Cape Town, Goodwood, Khayelitsha, Kuilsriver (including Bluedowns), Mitchells Plain, Simonstown, Somerset West, Strand and Wynberg.
I wish to make use of this opportunity to convey my appreciation towards the City of Cape for the good working relationship between our Department and the City.
The model used for the courts within the jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town is being used to establish other such similar courts in the more rural areas. I am also pleased to state that the Hermanus (Overstrand), Mossel Bay, Stellenbosch and George Additional Courts are already in operation and working well.
Numerous other municipalities have also already indicated their interest to enter into partnership with the Department in order to establish such additional courts in their areas.
I want to wish everyone responsible for the optimal operation of the new court all the very best.
If I can conclude with another often-used legal maxim, namely that of “justice must not only be done, but must manifestly be seen to be done.”
The launching of an additional court is the embodiment of justice being done and being seen to be done.
I thank you.