The processing domestic of violence cases by the department of justice and constitutional development : the case of Ntuzuma Magistrate Court in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mbambo, Nonhlanhla Cynthia.
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Domestic violence is a universal experience faced in most parts of the world. Many years ago domestic violence was considered a private matter therefore perpetrators were not necessarily brought to justice for their abusive behaviours. In 1998, however, the South African government enacted the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) to provide a public justice forum to address domestic violence. The DVA provides victims with an accessible legal tool to stop certain abuses taking place within their domestic relationships. This study aims at determining whether the processing of domestic violence cases is effective at the Ntuzuma Magistrates Court. This study seeks to determine the factors that facilitate or hinder the processing of domestic violence (DV) cases in Ntuzuma Magistrates Court while exploring the experiences of the Inanda/Ntuzuma/KwaMashu (INK) community regarding the services from the DV section in the Ntuzuma Magistrates Court. Through interviews of court personnel and a focus group of community members, stakeholder perceptions on application of the DVA and administration of DV case processing at Ntuzuma Magistrates Court are examined. The role of cultural competency in DV case processing is also considered from the perspectives of study participants. Data were analysed using a combination of thematic, content and matrix analysis. Findings reveal a problem of what appears to be ineffective administrative processing of domestic violence cases with reference to the finalisation of DV cases, case withdrawals and insufficient personnel to operate court administration. Lastly, the study concludes with recommendations for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to undertake as a way of improving court administration. These recommendations include increasing court personnel, rearranging division of work, and taking justice to the people through outreach programmes or community Izimbizos where community members would be educated about administration and court services to improve access to justice for domestic violence matters.