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GBV: Mogoeng calls for specialised training for court officials

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng presented his annual judiciary report on Thursday, which showed how overburdened the courts were.

FILE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: @OCJ_RSA/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng called for specialised training for magistrates, police investigators, state prosecutors, and court interpreters to deal with sensitive cases involving gender-based violence (GBV).

Mogoeng presented his annual judiciary report on Thursday, which showed how overburdened the courts were.

The high courts finalised more than 10,000 cases between April 2018 and March 2019, while judges managed to close more than 114,000 civil cases over the same period.

The chief justice said sexual offences courts didn't have the capacity and the manpower to deal with GBV cases.

“I think you need a focused and well-trained cohort of investigating officers that deal either exclusively or primarily with gender-based violence cases or rape cases,” Mogoeng said.

He said state prosecutors and court interpreters needed to be specially trained to deal with victims of these crimes.

“You may even want dedicated prosecutors there instead of magistrates, but whatever you choose to do, you need a lawyer with a lot of legal practice.”

The high level of GBV reached a boiling point in the country in September with protests being staged by women, victims and activists.

In the same month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an emergency plan to tackle GBV.

Meanwhile, the chief justice said imposing harsher sentences on perpetrators of GBV would serve as a deterrent but wouldn’t deal with the root cause of the crime.

Mogoeng said South Africa needed a plan to deal with the core problem of GBV, instead of placing the responsibility squarely on the justice system.

“Magistrates have been imposing harsh sentences on these people, but why is this going on and on and on? I think we need to diagnose the problem correctly,” he said.

Mogoeng said he even asked his counterparts in Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Norway for some advice as those countries didn’t have harsh penalties in place.