Access to justice for victims of aggravated robbery in the Tongaat area.
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To a large extent, the transition from an Apartheid state to democracy, disrupted state-run agencies such as policing and the criminal justice system, as well as informal institutions of society, thus influencing a breakdown of families, schools and communities. As a result social problems such as poverty, high unemployment rates, and inequality remain rife in South Africa, and contribute to a high level of crime and violence in the country. Tongaat is a dormitory suburb situated on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, and it is one of the oldest Indian communities in South Africa. Unfortunately, statistics on violent crime show a strong increase between the years 2003 to 2012 in the area, something which parallels the spread of such crime at a national level. The researcher set out to study the experience of direct and indirect victims of aggravated robbery, particularly in relation to access to justice, and with a specific reference to the services available to them in the area. At first, the research focused upon victims of crime, aiming to provide an in-depth understanding of the challenges they faced, and meeting their overall needs. These included such factors as personal safety, medical assistance, advice, emotional support and trauma counselling, reception of information about cases, the status of an offender and the process of the CJS, availability of compensation, and an ability on the part of victims to provide information and to contribute to decision making. However, in time, the research developed into an evaluation of service delivery. Information was obtained from individuals who had been victims of aggravated robbery at their homes, on the streets, and in their place of business. In addition, information was collected from a range of individuals in relevant government and non-government organisations who are meant to deal with crime victims. Primary data was collected through the use of personal interviews. The findings indicated that there were several problems related to issues of service delivery to victims of crime. Some of which included, amongst others, aspects of police sensitivity, secondary victimization, malpractice, and a general lack of awareness of victim rights and access to services. As part of the recommendations, the researcher has proposed the implementation of a docket checklist which could be used to make government departments, and its relevant personnel accountable to victims and the processes of the criminal justice processes.