29 May 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Rulanzen Martin
Judge Musi
Judge President Cagney Musi from the Free State Division of the High Court.

If you live in a rural town the chances of getting equal access to the court system as your urban counterparts is very slim and therefore the trust in the judiciary has taken a nosedive. This is the “urban bias” of the judiciary, according to Judge President Cagney Musi of the Free State Division of the High Court.

Afrobarometer conducted a countrywide survey on, Trust in Judiciary and access to justice in South Africa. Judge Musi, Matthias Krönke from the Department of Political Studies at the University of Cape Town and Chris Oxtoby from Democratic Governance and Rights Unit at UCT, engaged in a panel discussion on the findings of the report.

The data of the survey was released at an event which was hosted by the Department of Political Transformation and Governance at the University of the Free State (UFS) on Tuesday 16 May 2019. 

“The fact that we in South Africa and can say ‘I will take you to court’ is evidence of the trust there is in the judiciary,” said Judge President Musi. However, this trust in the courts ultimately lies in the operations of the court system. Cases that get postponed just becomes part of the backlog. The trust can be maintained through constant communication from the courts. Judge Musi asked whether social media could be used to maintain the trust in the judiciary by sharing court rulings on social media. 

“It is also time the courts moved along with the changing times.” Judge Musi was referencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how courts can move away from conventional paper-based systems to a process whereby a claimant can submit summonses online.

The data findings of the Afrobarometer survey focused on three broad themes namely; trust in the judiciary and access to justice and judicial autonomy. It aims to contextualise South Africa on the continent and see to what extent people trust the judiciary in South Africa and how that compares to other parts of Africa. South Africa’s performance is very average compared to other countries.

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