Big story in Cape Argus Wednesday 27 June 2012: Lady Justice lets down the most vulnerable.
The story revolves around the findings that women who seek protection from the courts for domestic violence and assault must ensure they are at the court by 05:00 (5am) already because only the first 20 people who arrive are assisted on any given day. If you are no. 21 you have to turn around, go home and return the following day.
Hishaam Mohamed of the Western Cape Justice department said there is no such “quota”. He said there is no such limitation at all. Everyone is assisted until the last one or the end of the day, that’s the official policy. He said he would need to investigate this “quota” system and take the necessary action against the relevant official(s).
The Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities will be launching a National Council Against Gender-Based Violence in August this year. Part of its objective is to co-ordinate a national response to gender-based violence and to close loopholes within the system to ensure the safety and protection of women.
In the meantime, what happens to the countless women who are turned away from the courts on a daily basis? What about these women who have to return to the abusive homes they are seeking refuge from? These women are forced to return to their abusive partners without receiving any assistance from the courts. Some of these women are faced with life or death situations and require legal intervention immediately. Delays in serving protection orders undermined attempts to prevent domestic abuse.
According to the spokesperson of the Women’s Legal Centre said 80% of women who visit their offices report that they were turned away from the courts. Most complaints received were about Wynberg, Phillippi, Mitchells Plain, Bishop Lavis, Cape Town, Goodwood, Bellville, Blue Downs and Khayelitsha courts.
The problem with the above mentioned scenario is that Mr Mohamed and the Minister (with all due respect to both) probably have never been in an abusive situation so they don’t have a clue what abused women have to endure at the hands of their abusers. One more day delay means nothing to them but means EVERYTHING to an abused woman or child.
Justice delayed is justice denied . . .
I’m just saying!