Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon JH Jeffery, MP, at the Nelson Mandela Centenary Celebrations, held at the Palm Ridge Magistrates’ Court, 19 July 2018
Programme Director, Mr Ramathikhithi
Chief Magistrate, Ms De Klerk, and other judicial officers present
Court Manager, Ms Naidoo
Members of the legal profession and Commissioners of the Small Claims Court
Representatives from various government departments, Legal Aid South Africa, the NPA and the SAPS
Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs
Ladies and gentlemen
Every year on the 18th of July South Africans together with the international community honour our former president and international icon Nelson Mandela in the celebration of Nelson Mandela Day.
The idea of Mandela Day was inspired by Nelson Mandela at his 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park in 2008 when he said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.”
The United Nations officially declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009, recognising Mandela’s “values and his dedication to the service of humanity” and acknowledging his contribution “to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world”.
This year takes on a special significance for us as a country as it marks the centenary celebration of Madiba’s life under the theme: “Be the legacy: Celebrating the birth of a world icon and a life of service”.
Guided by the spirit of Thuma Mina, government declared the 18th of July 2018 as a National Day of Service to honour former President Mandela who valued doing something for others to change their lives for the better.
Now we know that today is the 19th – and not the 18th – but in the same spirit of service, in the spirit of Thuma Mina, today’s event forms part of our Department’s initiative to have 100 active service points.
The aim is to inculcate a culture of community service within the Department and within the greater justice and legal fraternity through free legal advice at identified advice offices and courts within the identified communities.
The legal services cover all our main services portfolio such as, for example, Deceased Estates, Maintenance, the services of the Family Advocate, Domestic Violence, Civil Matters, Expungement of Criminal Records, Small Claims Courts, Equality Courts, and so forth.
To further support this initiative, we have also made available copies of the Justice Services Directory, Constitutions and Master’s Services Booklets.
We are also encouraging everyone to participate in other legacy projects targeting various vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, women, youth, and people with disabilities, such as offering their time to do community service, donating blankets, food stuffs, or toiletries and engaging in any other activity that can advance the legacy of Nelson Mandela aimed at empowering vulnerable or other disadvantaged groups.
We know that Palm Ridge Court is a busy one – if one looks at family court matters alone, for 2017/18, for maintenance there were 1847 matters registered and for domestic violence 974 matters registered.
In the Children’s Court, over the same period, some 991 matters were registered. With regards to evictions orders granted, there were 215 orders but 420 matters registered.
And these are not just numbers of matters, or court files – for every maintenance matter, there is a single parent and minor children battling to make ends meet.
For every domestic violence matter, there is a woman who does not feel safe and secure in her own home.
In every children’s court case, the rights of a child have been affected to such a degree that it becomes a matter for the courts.
These are the lives of the very people we serve.
I am told that substance abuse in the community, especially in Edenpark, is a problem. I am also told that that evictions and criminal prosecutions in respect of Trespassing are problematic, as many of the eviction matters emanate from deceased estates, when the families fail to register the estate after the death of the parent/s.
In other instances when eviction orders are executed the person evicted will move back into the property. Once this happens criminal prosecution for trespassing follows.
Today’s event will allow us to assist members of the community in a variety of areas – be it the drafting of a will, assistance with a deceased estate, questions about Legal Aid and a host of other issues.
Every contribution made, every time we assist someone, we do so in the spirit of Madiba and in honouring his legacy.
I want to leave you with a few lines from the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture which, as you know, was delivered by former US President Barack Obama earlier this week. He said -
“Let me tell you what I believe. I believe in Nelson Mandela's vision. I believe in a vision shared by Gandhi and King and Abraham Lincoln.
I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy, built on the premise that all people are created equal, and they're endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.
And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation in pursuit of a common good. That's what I believe.”