Posts Tagged ‘humansdorp court’

DA pressure leads to upgrades at Humansdorp Court

October 15, 2021

After 15 years of false starts and broken promises, the residents of Humansdorp will finally have a functional and decent court precinct to attend to their legal requirements.

This follows numerous oversight inspections and enquiries over the years from various members of the Democratic Alliance (DA).

“Following my oversight inspection at the court on 13 October 2020, I submitted a detailed report on the issues being faced by the staff and public at the existing court precinct and urged the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to speed up their processes to ensure that construction could begin as soon as possible,” said Samantha Graham-Maré, MP – DA Shadow Minister for Public Works.

Parliamentary questions were also submitted to ascertain what would be done to address the most pressing concerns.

“Security and ablutions are two of the most urgent concerns we raised in our reports and parliamentary questions.

There are a large number of female personnel on the site, and there have been various incidents where members of the public and staff have been attacked due to a lack of security infrastructure and personnel.

The toilet facilities were an abomination with no facilities whatsoever for female members of the public. The toilets in the holding cells are appalling, and there are no toilets in the overflow area used to house females and juveniles when the main holding cells are full,” said Graham-Mare.

“The holding cells themselves are woefully insufficient, both from a capacity point of view and a security perspective. Members of the public can freely gain access to these cells.

The lack of proper space for the administration of the courts means piles of dockets stored in passages and on the floors of offices.

There are no offices or areas where lawyers can confer with their clients, and the seating and waiting areas for people required to attend court are almost non-existent.

There is only one broken chair for the people attending court on maintenance issues, which stands out in the open. People deserve to be treated better than this.

Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the Democratic Alliance is extremely pleased to note that there has been site establishment by the appointed contractor on the premises to begin the renovations.

Cllr Hennie Britz, who has been driving this issue for years, and I will be monitoring the progress of the build closely to ensure that nothing prevents this project from being completed on time and within budget.

Persistence pays, and only the DA has been pushing for the renovations of the Humansdorp Magistrate Court because it is only the DA that gets things done,” concluded Graham-Mare.

Weapons discovered at Humansdorp Court

June 26, 2018

The discovery of dangerous weapons at the Humansdorp Magistrate’s office reveals a shocking lack of security.

An oversight inspection by Henni Britz, a DA councillor in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, to the Court building on 21 June 2018, revealed concerning and unsafe conditions for the staff and members of the public alike.

The total lack of security measures at this court building resulted in dangerous weapons being discovered and confiscated on Wednesday, 20 June 2018.

In one instance, two men entered the court building armed with knives, and on the morning of 21 June 2018 a concealed panga-type weapon was discovered in the only male toilets opposite the chief magistrate’s chambers.

No arrests were made by the security guards on duty at the time, and no case was opened with the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Members of the public, accused and witnesses alike, have full access to magistrates’ chambers.

On the day of the oversight inspection, only one visible security guard was on duty at the entrance, without any metal detectors in sight.

This is not an acceptable professional environment where the lives of magistrates, public prosecutors and court personnel are endangered on a daily basis.

Plans to extend and secure this building have been in place since 2006, but no progress has been made by the Department of Public Works, or the Department of Justice.

The building falls under the National Department of Public Works and upgrades were approved 12 years ago.

Even so, upgrades, approved at much later dates, have been done to the magistrates’ courts in Hankey, Patensie and Joubertina.

“As Shadow Minister for Public Works I will now ask parliamentary questions from the Minister for Public Works on why the status quo at the Humansdorp Court remains,” said Malcolm Figg, the Tsitsi-Kouga Constituency Leader and DA Shadow Minister for Public Works .

“It is an indictment against the government that after all these years a safe and adequate court building cannot be provided for our magistracy and other officials serving the community.

South Africans need to feel safe and be safe in cities and towns they call home. The DA would bring change that will provide security services to prevent crime and protect the community,” added Figg.

Alignment of Magisterial Districts with Municipal Districts – What does it hold for Koukamma?

September 15, 2015

The alignment of the magisterial districts with municipal districts by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development holds serious logistical problems for the citizens of Koukamma Municipality.

court hammer

The rationale behind this process is to provide greater access to justice services by bringing magistrate’s courts closer to citizens.

Democratic principles require that full public participation process be implemented to consider and resolve all issues at the planning stage before the process of alignment can be finalised. This averts lack of transparency and the likelihood that Koukamma communities are marginalised due to rash and uninformed decisions.

The costs for the expansion of the services and infrastructure for court services in Koukamma and proper holding facilities for trial awaiting prisoners in the same municipality must form part of the plan.

The current magisterial district of Humansdorp includes the two towns of Storms River and Kareedouw within the municipal district of Koukamma.

In each of these the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development established periodical courts that sit once per week and these courts are serviced by a magistrate, a prosecutor and administrative staff from Humansdorp Magistrate’s Court.

Cases that are dealt with at the Periodical Courts are mainly of a criminal nature and very few Family Court orientated cases. People residing in Storms River and Kareedouw who need to make use of services such as maintenance, domestic violence and prevention of harassment have to travel to Humansdorp because there are no administrative services rendered at the Periodical Courts.

The two periodical courts of Storms River and Kareedouw are situated within the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) compounds. It therefore appears there is little separation of powers between the duties and responsibilities of SAPS and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

da values

The Storms River court includes areas in Tsitsikamma such as Coldstream, Boskop, Thornham, Storms River, Blue Lillies Bush, Sandrift (Nomphumelelo Village), Witelsbos, Woodlands, Clarkson and Eerste River.

People generally use public taxis along the N2 between Coldstream on the Western Cape boundary and Humansdorp. The Kareedouw community also depends on taxis to travel to Humansdorp for services relating to maintenance, domestic violence and protection against harassment.

According to the re-demarcation guidelines Storms River and Kareedouw will in future fall under the magisterial district of Joubertina. This means that residents from the abovementioned settlements will have to travel to Joubertina and not Humansdorp.

There are virtually no established taxi routes between Tsitsikamma and Langkloof and this is certainly not sufficient to provide the required access to judicial services.

It is therefore essential that the taxi industry be included in the consultations with stakeholders currently envisaged by the department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Koukamma Municipality.
Preliminary indications are that citizens are deadset against the proposed re-demarcation since it will not bring them closer to court services and it will result in logistical nightmare for citizens to travel to Joubertina.

If Minister Michael Masutha is serious about giving the people of Koukamma access to our justice system, he will have to ensure that:

  • All stakeholders have free and fair opportunities to participate in the consultation process;
  • Sufficient funding is made available for the project in terms of infrastructure, a full staff establishment and sufficient operational budget; and
  • Most importantly that there is proper planning in implementing the programme so that courts are not held in inappropriate and inaccessible venues while under construction or renovation, but in a dignified manner so as to respect the status of this vital pillar of our Constitution.

Elza Van Lingen