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Pathways to Justice in Rural KZN

 

This research explores the “pathways” that rural citizens in four KwaZulu-Natal jurisdictions use to access justice, subsequent to experiencing social contact or property-related crimes. The four jurisdictions selected as research sites are Greytown, Msinga, Muden and Weenen. Through an analysis of police dockets at these precincts, we aim to highlight the manner in which families, traditional leadership structures, the South African Police Service (SAPS), and the state courts, factor into a complainant’s decisions in attempting to seek resolution. Findings from in-depth, semi-structured interviews with prosecutors and magistrates, as well as focus-group discussions with selected Traditional Council members in the four areas, provide valuable insight into the relationship between the formal and the customary justice systems. With government attempting to pass laws like the Traditional Courts Bill (TCB), the proposed research was conducted at a critical juncture in the policy and legislative debate around customary courts, powers of traditional leaders and access to justice in rural communities.