Thokoza gets justice on its doorstep
Wiomen and children from Alberton and the nearby township of Thokoza no longer have to travel to Johannesburg to apply for child maintenance or have their domestic violence cases heard.
Instead they have a court on their doorstep.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe yesterday opened a R220-million Palm Ridge Court on the East Rand in a move that he said aimed to "bring justice to all corners of South Africa".
He said building courts in communities and townships, would help reduce the backlogs in the courts that slowed access to justice.
The Palm Ridge court has a permanent high court seat to "alleviate the pressure and congestion" at the Johannesburg High Court, said Radebe.
The residents of Alberton, Palm Ridge and Thokoza previously had to travel to Alberton Magistrate's Court for criminal matters or to Johannesburg Magistrate's Court to appear in the divorce or family courts.
People from Thokoza township will spend less time travelling to court, said Department of Justice spokesman Mtunzi Mhaga.
The Palm Ridge court, unlike the neighbouring magistrate's court in Alberton, which only deals with criminal matters, includes a children's court, courts to deal with domestic violence and a family court.
A brightly coloured witness protection room allows minors testifying in sexual offence cases to do so from behind darkened glass to protect their identity.
The room was used two weeks ago when a 16-year-old was testifying in the "Sunday rapist" case.
Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies Professor Bonita Meyersfeld said the darkened glass was a simple step that was not used nearly enough in South Africa.
She praised the inclusion of the private witness protection room.
Acknowledging Women's Month, Radebe said the number of rape cases in South Africa was "startling".
He urged all members of the judiciary to "join hands to rid South Africa of horrendous crimes that damage the country's reputation both at home and internationally".