While courts have processed World Cup related crimes in record time, scores of people marched on the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Courts today to protest against inefficiencies at the courts.
Postponements and the bungling of cases due to inexperienced police officers, investigators and court personnel was of “huge concern” and violated the rights of victims of crime, especially women subjected to rape and violence, said the protestors, who represented seven different organizations.
The protest was prompted by a case in which a Khayelitsha dance teacher was last month charged with the rape of 28 children between the ages of six and 12-years-old.
The man, who has not pleaded yet, has appeared in court three times and the case has been postponed until July 16.
The protestors handed over a memorandum of grievances to the courts’ manager Joyce Moodley calling for her to monitor the progress of cases and ensure that rape, murder and hate crime suspects are forbidden bail, their cases are not withdrawn and they are not acquitted with undue reason.
Chairperson of Khayelitsha’s Positive Men United (POMU), Mthuthuzeli Dutyulwa, said they wanted the court to ensure that cases proceed without undue delays and postponements.
Dutyulwa said there had been several rape cases in which charges had been withdrawn by the state, been postponed, and some suspects had been acquitted due to lack of evidence.
POMU also opposed the release of accused without the victims in the case being notified.
He said the protestors wanted Moodley to take their complaints to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
“This court is failing us. There are too many rape cases that are being attended to in this court and the number of convicted suspects is below average,” said Dutyulwa.
He said three weeks ago a case involving the rape of a five-year-old girl was withdrawn because the investigating officer had misplaced the docket. The charges needed to be reinstated “immediately” and a senior investigator, prosecutor and magistrate assigned to the case.
Funeka Soldaat, co-ordinator for Free Gender, said “the survival of targeted groups in communities depends on effective investigations and equal access to justice and the courts.”
She said Free Gender was “outraged” that “so many cases” involving crimes against same-sex couples in particular were dealt with inadequately by the courts.
“The courts, through allowing endless delays, and the police, by not adequately investigating cases of hate crime, rape and murder, appear to conspire to deny justice to all people fairly and equally,” said Soldaat.
Justice and Constitutional Development Department provincial head Niham Mahomed directed all media queries to the Pretoria head office, but the phone at head office remained unanswered despite numerous calls.