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ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA, THABO MBEKI, AT THE
OPENING OF THE KHAYELITSHA MAGISTRATE'S COURT, Khayelitsha, 17
April 2003 Chairperson, Mr Simon Jiyane,
Minister Penuell Maduna,
Premier of the Western Cape, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk,
Your Worship the Mayor of Cape Town,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors of Denmark and Switzerland,
Honourable Ministers and MECs,
Our Traditional Leaders,
Members of our legislatures,
Community Leaders and people of Khayelitsha,
Ladies and gentlemen:
I am very happy to have this opportunity to open the first
magistrate's court to be established in Khayelitsha, the second
biggest magistrate's court in the country.
We meet today in Khayelitsha township, a typical apartheid created
settlement. Khayelitsha, like many similar townships in our
country, was designed according to the disastrous policies of the
past, which saw such human settlements as cheap labour
All of us aware of the consequences of these past policies which
still define places such as Khayelitsha as areas of high
unemployment, high levels of poverty, disease, low level of
education, substance and alcohol abuse, high rates of crime and
poor social and economic infrastructure.
This profile defines other apartheid creations - Mitchell's Plain,
Gugulethu, Bonteheuwel, Kwa-Mashu, Soweto, Mamelodi and many other
urban settlements of our country.
The masses of our people fought against these conditions and used
their meagre resources to improve their education, engage in
sporting and cultural activities, and struggled to establish
businesses in a hostile and harsh environment.
The people of Khayelitsha, together with many of us throughout the
country, fought the struggle for liberation to give ourselves the
possibility to face, in a concerted, integrated and comprehensive
way, the challenges we inherited from the apartheid past.
Since 1994 we have put in place programmes towards the creation of
a developed and prosperous South Africa.
In this regard, government has adopted among others, the Urban
Renewal Strategy as well as the Integrated and Sustainable Rural
Development Programme aimed at combining resources, working in an
integrated way and ensuring maximum, visible, enduring and
sustainable outcomes that benefit our people in the poorest areas
of our country.
Through these and many other programmes, and working in partnership
with our social partners, we are confident that we will in time
achieve the goal of a better life for all.
We have gathered here today to unveil one of such projects, which
is an integral part of the programmes within the Urban Renewal
Strategy. Through this court, we will ensure that we bring justice
within the reach of the people of Khayelitsha, in the spirit of
This court is part of our response to the unacceptable living
conditions of our people as described earlier, and should be seen
in the broader context of our readiness to work together to correct
the wrongs imposed on us and accordingly attend to our people's
housing needs, build the much-needed infrastructure of roads,
electricity, water and ensure that those who are ill among us have
the necessary health facilities and the requisite resources.
We have more reason to celebrate today because this is the first
fully-fledged court in the African areas of the Western Cape.
The Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court is here to deliver prompt,
courteous and efficient judicial services to our people.
We are determined that we should not merely pay lip service to
justice - it must be seen to be done. This court will ensure that
our people do not have to make arduous and long journeys to distant
courts to seek justice.
Today, we are all proud that the Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court has
been up and running since 1 July 2002. The services provided by
this court demonstrate, very clearly, the importance of
partnerships between government and the people.
This court also represents a fresh beginning for prosecutors,
magistrates, and administrative personnel who have had abnormally
high caseloads. We have increased the number of courts to improve
efficiency so that we can all focus more effectively and timeously
on the cases at hand.
An important element of this building is that it also houses NGOs,
so that all of us who are committed to the improvement of the lives
of our people, can have an improved opportunity to co-ordinate our
Through this court, we have the possibility to make many of our
people more active in the justice system. It helps greatly that
these NGOs are able to provide community services to improve the
effectiveness of our justice system.
Furthermore, I am happy that the court is designed to attend to the
many challenges that we all face today, including sexual offences,
juvenile offences and a Family Court focussing on maintenance and
This court, like others, is an important institution that fulfils a
constitutional mandate and brings, in a practical way, justice to
the people. All of us in Khayelitsha and other places should be
inspired by a development such as this one and I have no doubt that
this will strengthen confidence in the administration of
We all want safer and stable communities. We want our townships to
be rid of crime and criminals so that we can face our challenges in
a secure environment. I am happy that because of our readiness to
make our townships and suburbs safe, many of us have elected to
participate in the forums that seek to assist the criminal justice
This court is part of the work that we are doing around Community
Safety Forums (CSFs) that have been established in many communities
around the Western Cape as well as throughout the country.
I am also happy to see the various programmes that the Community
Safety Forums in this Province, are engaged in, for instance the
Victim Empowerment Projects, and the way in which this programme
has been linked to crime prevention and the workings of the
criminal justice system.
There are many important lessons that other communities can learn
from the manner in which the Forums have worked in the local
communities, as well as the way in which you have ensured an
on-going interface between government agencies and structures
I hope that we would be able to involve many more people in our
programmes, because I am told that there have been instances of
vigilantes and people taking extra-legal measures to deal with
crime. There is no need for anyone of us to do this, and I would
like to urge that we all unite so as to be effective in our fight
I would also like to commend the community of Khayelitsha for the
initiatives that you have taken to assist the development programme
that we have embarked on.
I learn that you had an occasion to reflect on the many challenges
facing this community and produced the document called the
Khayelitsha Development Programme as an input into the work around
the renewal of the area.
I trust that, in the spirit of Vuk'zenzele, we are ready to be
volunteers and lend our hand to ensure that we indeed push back the
frontiers of poverty and open access to a better life.
We wish to express our gratitude to our friends from other
countries who have helped to fund some of our projects as well as
provide technical expertise. We value this partnership and trust
that it would grow from strength to strength. I am very pleased
that today we have with us our good friends, the Ambassadors of
Denmark and Switzerland.
This magistrate's court is just one of the many positive signs that
we have turned the corner and many of us have already entered into
a social contract for a better tomorrow.
Let us all protect this asset and use it to address the continuing
challenge of bringing a better life to all our people.