Thursday, 27 August 2020

Bloemfontein: Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Thembi Siweya and Free State MEC of Police, Roads and Transport, Sam Mashinini, today visited the Bloemfontein Magistrate Court to assess the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery, with a special focus on the dedicated Sexual Offences Court.

During the presentation by the court management, Siweya identified infrastructure and structural challenges which have the potential to hamper efficient service delivery.

The Deputy Minister said the court needs to review its structure to accommodate more intermediaries to support victims of gender-based violence, as they testify at the Sexual Offences Court.

Officials in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation will work closely with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of Public works to assist with the infrastructure challenge.

Despite these challenges, the court has made strides to reduce its case backlog and assist in dealing with gender-based violence.

Siweya and Mashinini were pleased with the court’s level of compliance to COVID-19 regulations.

“It’s important that all our institutions continue to comply with COVID-19 health protocols and protect the lives of all public servants.

“We must be able to continue to serve our people. Sexual Offences Courts, in particular, are important for us to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence,” said Siweya.

A dedicated Sexual Offences Court is a critical intervention in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide, as it is specifically designed to reduce secondary victimisation and create a conducive space for survivors to share their testimonies.

In July, Siweya witnessed first-hand the implementation of COVID-19 plans at a Sexual Offences Court in Limpopo. Siweya was pleased with the level of compliance at the Nebo Magistrate Court.

At the time, Siweya said it is necessary that dedicated sexual offences courts continue to function optimally.

The visits to the courts are a response to the President’s pronouncement that all Ministers and Deputy Ministers be deployed to various districts in the country to monitor compliance with COVID-19 regulations.