Certain sections of the Amanzimtoti court are being relocated to Umlazi. That disturbing news was borne out of a series of stakeholders’ meetings regarding the rationalisation of the KZN magisterial districts to afford communities easier access to courts.
What is of specific interest to the greater Amanzimtoti area is that the seat of the court will change from Durban to uMlazi for family, domestic violence, peace order and civil matters.
Minor criminal and traffic-related matters will still be adjudicated from the current site of the Amanzimtoti magistrate’s court in Nelson Road, adjacent to the police station.
Initial plans had hoped to see the Amanzimtoti court moved as early as 1 August. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Constitutional Development (CD) now hopes to have the administrative process completed by December, with implementation being done by 1 April.
The impact of this relocation will mean residents from the greater Amanzimtoti area will now have to travel into Umlazi for family, domestic violence, peace order and civil matters.
Although safety concerns were raised in the meetings that the court is inside the uMlazi township and close to the notorious Glebelands hostel, the department believes the 22km proximity from the Toti Magistrates Court, as opposed to the current 31km from Durban, outweighs the objection.
Amanzimtoti Magistrates Court, which is currently sited in Nelson Road, adjacent to the police station, currently facilitates minor criminal and traffic-related cases.
Ward 97 councillor, Andre Beetge, who attended the final stakeholders’ meeting at SAPS Durban Central on Thursday, 16 August, expressed concern on the proposed location of the new court.
READ ALSO: Regional, family courts set to move
“While elated at it being confirmed that Toti remains scheduled to house a full court infrastructure which will include a High Court, three regional, two civil, two criminal, one family and an equality court in the near future, that will inevitably negate the travel and use of the uMlazi facility,” he said.
“In 2016 when officials indicated that the identified location was the erf on the corner of Bernadotte and Kort streets between Ipahla Centre and the NG Church, I already expressed concern about the proximity to Amanzimtoti Primary, Kuswag and Kingsway High schools. We were, however at the time assured it was merely a suggestion which remained open for discussion,” said Cllr Beetge.
“Given that the Amanzimtoti development was again mentioned in the presentation (on Thursday), I posed three questions:
• When will the construction of the Amanzimtoti court precinct start? Although there was no specific date, plans were already in an advanced stage and clearing of the premises should have taken place but this was delayed.
• Was there still the intention to locate the court precinct on the public works premises located on the corner of Kort and Bernadotte streets next to the church and basically in the centre of the school precinct where minors would have to pass right in front of suspected prying eyes? Plans remain unchanged to develop the court precinct in the same location, while acknowledging that the present Amanzimtoti court is also located in close proximity to schools.
• “Having noted that, when is the department planning on engaging the broader public of Amanzimtoti in an effort to get our residents’ opinion on the location of the new court precinct and to listen to recommendations of an alternative and better suited location?”
Their response to Cllr Beetge’s queries was “We’ll take your details and get back to you”, which has not happened to date.
“Having bounced this proposal off numerous residents, we are yet to receive support from anyone for building a court in the specific location. Instead there appears more support of erf 3/1009 being transferred from public works to education and specifically for Amanzimtoti Primary to expand its footprint in line with increased demand from the larger community.
An alternative location for the court development appears rather favoured on the large open area between Civic Road, Isundu Drive and the Amanzimtoti River, where the municipal buildings used to be, which currently only benefits the dog club, cattle grazing, parking for security vehicles and shade for prostitutes and municipal workers.
The process would inevitably require a negotiated agreement between the municipality, DOJ and CD, which will in the long run, make much more sense given its proximity to public transport routes, extended parking options, easy access from various routes and distanced proximity from residential dwellings.
While I am excited at having a full services court within the borders of our town, I don’t believe our community is going to roll over and play dead if there is the possibility that our children could be at risk. We anxiously await that call from the DOJ and CD,” said Cllr Beetge.
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