The role of the Centre for Community Justice and Development in indigenous governance of social justice in Impendle, KwaZulu-Natal.
Hlubi, Phindile Favourite.
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The Role of the Centre for Community Justice and Development in Indigenous Governance of Social Justice in Impendle, KwaZulu-Natal Although a post-apartheid South Africa emerged in 1994 and an internationally recognised Constitution became effective in 1996, rural KwaZulu-Natal is home to poverty stricken citizens without access to socio-economic justice. Very few lawyers practice in rural areas especially in areas governed by traditional authorities. As a consequence many citizens are arguably ignorant of their legal rights; yet legal awareness is the foundation of constitutional protections and socioeconomic justice. This research undertaking falls within the broader framework of the field of access to justice, exploring alternative justice approaches that a traditional community, like Impendle can utilise to be able to access justice. The study focuses on assisting traditional rural communities find alternatives to the formal, often exclusivist and problematic nature of the justice system that often act as a gate keeper, hindering access justice. This study seeks to achieve a set of objectives set against the study background and research problem. The objectives of the study are as follows, (1) to investigate the use of indigenous governance techniques by the CCJD, (2) to determine the relevance of customary law in accessing justice in the rural area of Impendle, (3) to explore the value of governance systems for access to justice in Impendle and (4) to develop policy recommendations for the governance of social justice systems as one mechanisms citizens in rural areas can use to access justice. This study examines indigenous governance of social justice as delivered by the Centre for Community Justice and Development (CCJD), a nongovernmental organisation based in KwaZulu-Natal. This research study is theoretically driven by John Rawls’ theory of social justice which includes (1) addressing structural disadvantage as structures of oppression, (2) addressing discourses of disadvantage relative to access to justice in a democratic society, and (3) empowerment of disadvantaged groups toward understanding, addressing and removing barriers to exercise power. Exercising power of citizens in rural Impendle is about the power of access to justice in this study. Using a qualitative research design and case study strategy with an underlying advocacy/participatory worldview, findings from interviews and focus groups indicate that, while CCJD does use indigenous knowledge systems to facilitate access to justice, staffing and budgetary constraints curtail overcoming the challenge of ensuring that South Africans in the study area do not experience barriers in accessing equal access and protection under the law. The study concludes with recommendations for CCJD justice mechanisms, for public policy-makers seeking to address structural disadvantage of so many South African citizens and for policymakers in South Africa and other countries seeking to facilitate indigenous knowledge systems of governance.
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