Access to justice is increasing

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery says

the thing he loves most about his job is being given the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives through justice.

“Justice really is the key that unlocks all the other rights in the Constitution. Often people don’t know their rights or they don’t know how to enforce their rights – that’s where justice plays a pivotal role.”

 Deputy Minister Jeffery, who holds two law degrees and is an admitted attorney, adds that some of the things that his department has done includes building a new high court in Limpopo

and renovating and refurbishing other courts around the country to ensure everyone has access to justice.

Small Claims make a difference The creation and rollout of Small Claims

Courts across the country has been one of the Department of Justice

and Constitutional Development’s flagship projects.

It has achieved nearly 100 per cent coverage countrywide, which means that there is a functioning Small Claims Court in every magisterial district in South Africa.

“These courts help people to access the justice system without the need of a lawyer and the service is rendered free of charge.”

 The aim of the Small Claims Court is to make justice inexpensive and accessible to those who cannot afford court fees.

The maximum claim that can be brought to the court is R15 000. Use of these courts has increased.

“We also run various awareness programmes and community outreach events to alert communities of their legal rights and how to access justice services.”

Deputy Minister Jeffery said his department also runs various programmes that create constitutional awareness and human rights.

He said the department’s Public Education and Communication (PEC) section is responsible for providing public education and liaison services.

The PEC develops and updates comprehensive communication activities, both nationally and provincially, for continuous public awareness campaigns.

Working with the Government Communication and Information System, the department’s various regional offices

and other role players such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the South African Human Rights Commission

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