Government in an effort to promote equality and prevent unfair discrimination has enacted the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act No 4 of 2000 (PEPUDA). The Act seeks to further promote a democratic society that is united in its diversity marked by human relations that reflect a caring and compassionate citizenry. It prevents and prohibits unfair discrimination and harassment. It further promotes equality and eliminates unfair discrimination. Hate speech is also prevented and prohibited by the Act.
The main objectives of the Act are:
Equality Courts have a crucial role to play in implementing PEPUDA. These courts are designated to hear matters relating to unfair discrimination, hate speech and harassment. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) has designated all Magistrates’ Courts to serve as Equality Courts in all 9 provinces.
In order to institute proceedings in the Equality Court it is not a requirement that one must have legal representation. Proceedings in the Equality Court may be instituted by:
These courts are free; this means that the complainant does not have to pay any court fees. The trained Equality Court clerk is mandated to assist the complainant with completing the necessary forms that are obtainable at any Equality Court.
Use of these special courts will assert the rights to dignity and equality of all South Africans. This will enable the country to realise the goal of achieving equality for all.
By Neliswa Demana
14 March 2011