Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke on transparency of the judicial process

Dikgang Moseneke National Press Club speech_quotes for blogs_June 2015-page-002 (5)

South Africans are entitled to a judicial system that they can trust; Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke expressed this sentiment. Moseneke was speaking at the National Press Club Newsmaker of 2014 that was hosted at the North West University in May.

To read his full speech click here.

Update on Thembekile Molaudzi: wrongfully-convicted man tells his story to the media

Carolyn and Thembekile

Article that was published in Pretoria News in June 30.

We are sure you’ve seen or heard at least one of the many tweets, Facebook posts, radio interviews or articles that have resulted from our coverage of the story of Thembekile Molaudzi: a man recently freed after 11 years’ imprisonment, for a crime he did not commit.

Thembekile and Carolyn Raphaely, our journalist who investigated and wrote about Thembekile for more than 3 years, have been on a media whirlwind in the last ten days. We’ve collated most of the output here, in case you’ve missed any.

We particularly encourage you to click on the links to one of the radio podcasts as they are all in-depth interviews, which give you a chance to hear Thembekile tell his own story:

 

  Station and Host Podcast/ insert Link
Radio Radio 786 –Interview with  Hassen Sera
Radio Radio 702 – Redi Thlabi Read article and listen to podcast here
Radio Cliff CentralHost Gary Herzberg, on “Laws of Life” Listen to podcast here
Radio Kaya FM – Today with  John Perlman Listen to podcast here
Radio Power FM – Power Life with Masechaba Lekalake Listen to podcast here
TV ENCA – Thulasizwe Simelane Watch news insert and feature here 
TV SABC CUTTING EDGE Airdate to be confirmed, possibly 21 July

Support our work: http://www.witsfoundation.co.za/givejustice.asp

 

We the People: Baltimore is the new South Africa

We the people logo June 2015

Jennifer Rae Taylor spent three months earlier this year with the Wits Justice Project, researching race and the criminal justice in South Africa. In a recent article published in Salon, she offers some explanations for why the city of Baltimore erupted in protests that invoked racial inequality following the death of Freddy Gray while in police custody— despite the fact that the city is governed under a black leadership. Why the residents of Baltimore had no more faith in law enforcement and prosecutors than their counterparts in Ferguson, Missouri or Staten Island, where whites are over-represented in local government and the police force.

A woman faces down a line of Baltimore Police officers in riot gear during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Accessed on http://www.pressroomvip.com/19-shocking-images-from-the-baltimore-riots/

A woman faces down a line of Baltimore Police officers in riot gear during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Accessed on http://www.pressroomvip.com/19-shocking-images-from-the-baltimore-riots/

Her questions brought her back to South Africa, where like Baltimore, blacks have achieved racial representation in key government positions, but young black men continue to be criminalized. As in the United States, the public perception in South Africa is that the courts treat blacks differently from whites.

In her article, Taylor observes the similarities between the two countries’ racial histories and reflects on their failures to realize their ideals of racial justice.

She writes:

Though the vast majority of lawmakers, judges and prison leaders are now black, apartheid’s end did not begin a national project to dismantle and rebuild a system for responding to crime. Power changed hands but continued on the same track. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws that flourished in the U.S. beginning in the 1980s were embraced by South Africa’s democratic government post-1994 as a response to growing poverty and crime, and the number of South African prisoners serving life sentences has increased by nearly 3,000 percent. Lengthy and widespread imprisonment, a tool whites first embraced as a means of exploiting and controlling the nation’s black masses, is now wielded by the nation’s black leaders.

Read Taylor’s full article here: “Baltimore is the new South Africa: Black political power in South Africa — or in Baltimore — hasn’t prevented horrendous racial injustice“.

We the People

In a series of blogposts, entitled “We the People”, the Wits Justice Project will be focusing on a comparison of policing, criminal justice, and incarceration in South Africa and the United States. This body of work grows out of contributions by journalists, lawyers, and commentators on both sides of the Atlantic, and seeks to understand these issues in light of the similar histories of racial oppression and the current high rates of incarceration in both countries.

Given that South African courts regularly turn to international jurisprudence, including American law, for guidance, we believe that this study will provide a useful basis to examine the development of criminal law and procedure here in South Africa with a critical lens. While American courts give less weight to jurisprudence from other countries, we hope that these posts will provide insight into the way that the role of human dignity, recognized by the South African Constitution, should be a consideration in any search for justice. 

Radio Days Africa: why radio is still key in communications for rights and governance in Africa

Lazaro Bamo stood up in front of an attentive crowd at Radio Days Africa last Thursday to talk about his newly funded project, Face2Face.

He told the group that two months ago he pitched his project idea several times to a room full of people, all competing for funding during an intensive Global Innovation Competition week in Jakarta. On the last day of the competition, Bamo sweated through the final pitch in front of cameras (and a couple of hundred people) at a formal function up on stage until finally, along with four other projects, Face2Face won gold, meaning the project was considered innovative enough to be funded byMaking All Voices Count.

So, he said, speaking at Radio Days Africa would be much easier than that. The crowd laughed – we’re all communicators, but we’ve all been nervous presenters too.

Face2Face’s Lazaro Bamo with Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi from the Wits Justice Project

Face2Face’s Lazaro Bamo with Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi from the Wits Justice Project

Radio Days Africa

Bamo was part of a panel at Radio Days Africa that showed the strength of African innovation and the demand for community radio.

Radio Days Africa is the largest meeting of radio innovators and talent on the continent.  It is based at the University of the Witwatersrand and is run by Wits Radio Academy’s Franz Kruger. The conference this year saw a larger focus on Africa than previous years (this was the 6th year of the conference) and it gathered speakers from across the continent, including Zambia, Nigeria and Mozambique, to talk about the importance of radio.

Who says radio isn’t innovative?

Only people who aren’t listening and learning. In 2015 there were five gold winners at the Global Innovation Competition, and two of these winners were involved with community radio – which says a lot about the critical role radio plays in Africa, not just in rural areas, but as an established voice in the lives and homes of most people in the continent.

Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi, Project Coordinator of Wits Justice Project, introduced the panel and said that these two projects winning in Jakarta showed how important the medium was on the continent, despite the rise of the internet and social media. Both winning projects were on the panel.

 

  • Face2Face: The first was Bamo’s Face2Face initiative which aims to track the experiences of people using Mozambique’s new Right to Information Law to obtain public information. Documenting their experiences and partnering with community radio, the project will highlight and challenge the barriers that still remain in getting information that is now legally supposed to be in the public domain.

 

  • The Citizen Justice Network: The second project was The Citizen Justice Network. Paul McNally created the Citizen Justice Network (CJN) with Wits Justice Project and Wits Radio Academy and discussed how the concept went from a discussion, to a proposal, through the Making All Voices Count mentoring programme, to being implemented. The CJN will train junior paralegals at community advice offices to be journalists and help them produce radio stories on legal issues for their local community radio station. In this way, the CJN will operate as a bridge between those with the information around justice in a community and those who desperately need it, allowing Wits Justice Project in Johannesburg to identify patterns of miscarriages of justice across the country and implement this information in their ongoing advocacy. It will also – of great interest to the folk at Radio Days – promote quality and unbiased radio documentary and give producers the chance to distribute their content across the country and on-line.

So what’s next?

Bamo and McNally fielded questions from the audience and gave their thanks. They are both about to start their pilot projects with hope to scale them up, grow the funding and give a voice to the people in their respective areas. The two promise to meet in Mozambique next time (Bamo’s home turf) and collaborate further, but know they are supported by a vibrant and still-growing radio community who are challenging assumptions about governance and rights all across Africa.

Radio-Days-Africa

Curbing TB in South Africa’s prisons remains a challenge

 

Picture taken during a Constitution Hill visit/tour by the WJP team. Photo: Marvin Adams

“Prisons are a breeding ground for the spread of communicable diseases. Just for the quarter October – December 2014, the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) received 11 reports of natural deaths caused by TB, a preventable and treatable disease. Worldwide, the prevalence of TB is alarmingly high in prisons compared to the general population.”

WJP intern – Unathi Mahlati – gives an overview of the TB epidemic in South African correctional centres. Read the article as it appeared in the June issue of HIV Nursing Matters of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, here.

Related Readings

Curbing TB in SA’s prisons a priority

I Got TB in Prison

SA prisons: hotbed for spread of TB inside and outside…

Innocent man freed after 11 years in prison

 

Thembekile Molaudzi and WJP senior journalist, Carolyn Raphaely outside Kgosi Mampuru II after his release on 26 June 2015

“Last Friday, with 11 lost years behind him and an uncertain future before him, Molaudzi strode out of Kgosi Mampuru II prison carrying only the files of correspondence he had accumulated while trying to prove his innocence, a few clothes and a lot of psychological baggage. The former Pretoria taxi driver’s struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds – including torture, solitary confinement and an eight-year battle to obtain his trial transcripts – had finally come to an end.”

Senior Journalist, Carolyn Raphaely, details the story of Thembekile Molaudzi, who spent 11 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Between shoddy investigations, missing court transcripts and unsuccessful appeals Molaudzi was caught in a system that has been criticized for being punitive to the poor. The Wits Justice Project pursued Thembekile’s case for 3 years, helping him to find his transcripts and facilitating legal assistance, for a man Carolyn Raphaely was convinced was innocent.

Read the article as it appeared on the Daily Maverick, here and as it appeared in The Star, here.

Thembekile Molaudzi

Thembekile Molaudzi

 

Related Links

Listen: Raphaely talks to SABC news on #SAfmplive

Molaudzi v The State: Media Summary

Justice delayed due to problem of lost court records

Justice for Breakfast: administrative inefficiencies in Gauteng’s courts

Courts of Justice: Innovation to Ensure Access to Justice in South Africa

The second installment of the 2015 Justice for Breakfast roundtable series was held on June 25, 2015 at the Wits school of Governance, who co-host the series with the Wits Justice Project. This roundtable centred on the kinds of innovations needed to ensure administration and access to justice is in alignment with the National Development Plan (NDP).

Those in attendance included representative from various organizations, including the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, Legal Aid South Africa, the Helen Suzman Foundation, the South African Human Rights Commission, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and the Embassy of Switzerland. Some of the questions that participants were encouraged to mull over during the roundtable included:

  • Can the problem of court backlogs be sufficiently addressed through more efficient court processes or are other external factors responsible for the high volume of cases?
  • Is technology receiving sufficient priority? How else can technology be utilised?
  • What kinds of solutions are needed to address the public’s perception that the criminal justice system is racist and discriminates against the poor?
  • How can examples of efficiency and lateral thinking be identified in South Africa’s criminal justice system, and be replicated elsewhere?
Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi (Project Coordinator at Wits Justice Project) and Catherine Moat (Head: Public Safety Programme at Wits School of Governance) welcomed those in attendance and introduced the second installment of the 2015 Justice for Breakfast roundtable series.

Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi (Project Coordinator at Wits Justice Project) and Catherine Moat (Head: Public Safety Programme at Wits School of Governance) welcomed those in attendance and introduced the second installment of the 2015 Justice for Breakfast roundtable series.

Lead discussant – Adv. Pieter du Rand, Chief Director of Court Services for the Department of Justice and Consitutional Development (DoJCD) – kicked off the discussion by giving an overview of some of the successful interventions that have been in effect within the criminal justice system since the transition to democracy in 1994. He then presented some statistics to highlight the complexity of the criminal justice system. For example there are 766 court centres countrywide, 242 correctional centres, more than 3000 prosecutors, 38 000 SAPS detective, 69 crime-scene labs, 41,000 people in remand about 100,000 sentenced inmates. The criminal justice system is an intricate system comprising of different role-players.

The majority of Adv. du Rand’s presentation focused on the Criminal Justice System Review 7-point-plan adopted by the Department of Justice to strengthen the criminal justice system so that unbiased justice through a coordinated and integrated manner is administered and crime deterred. The seven focus points include:

  1. A single vision for the criminal justice system through coordination and management of various departments.
  2. Legislation and protocols aligned with the criminal justice system
  3. Practical short and long-term proposal to improve court performance
  4. Improved component parts negatively impacting the criminal justice system
  5. An integrated national criminal justice information system
  6. Technological innovations
  7. Involvement of the population in fighting against crime
Justice for Breakfast-Courts of Justice Innovation to Ensure Access to Justice in South Africa  (33)

Adv. Pieter du Rand, Chief Director of Court Services for the Department of Justice and Consitutional Development (DoJCD)

Successes

  • Faster availability of forensic information due to finalisation of the protocol dealing with forensic evidence.
  • Improved coordination between various role-players in court due to case-flow management guidelines.
  • Legal Aid South Africa receives digital notifications, sent from the police station, when someone who is arrested might qualify for legal representation.
  • Protocols on electronic tagging of remand detainees and improving mental illness evaluation processes.

According to Adv. du Rand, areas that still need a lot of improvement include cyber security, court infrastructure, and management at court level, and transcription, as well as language policy. He also stressed the need to focus on implementing the recently adopted Judicial Norms and Standards, which is a major priority for the Office of the Chief Justice.

After the presentation, a productive discussion was held, in which many of the participants offered support for the processes of innovation, with their own particular expertise and insights.

An official outcome document from the Justice for Breakfast Roundtable will soon be made available.

Justice for Breakfast-Courts of Justice Innovation to Ensure Access to Justice in South Africa  (19)

This Justice for Breakfast roundtable focused on the kinds of innovations needed to ensure administration and access to justice is in alignment with the National Development Plan

Related Readings

Anthology of the Justice for Breakfast Roundtable Debates 2012/2013

Justice for Breakfast: the human cost of administrative errors

In the court of public opinion: attitudes towards the criminal courts

 

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