Have you or anyone close to you experienced unfair discrimination, hate speech or harassment? If yes, you can lodge a complaint at the Equality courts which were primarily established to bring access to justice to the marginalized and vulnerable citizens to assert their rights – a mandate that is at the core of what we do as Citizen Justice Network. Equality Courts are found in the Magistrate Courts Nationally and do not require payment from citizens. They were created under the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000, which was promulgated as a result of section 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 108 of 1996.
WHAT ARE EQUALITY COURTS?
- Equality courts are specialised courts designated to hear matters relating to unfair discrimination, hate speech and harassment.
- The Equality courts were extended to the magistrates’ courts primarily to bring access to justice to the marginalized and vulnerable citizens to assert their rights.
- Proceedings in the High Courts are costly for the majority of our people however, in the equality courts, legal representation is not a prerequisite and there are no costs incurred when lodging a complaint, thus making it easy to access.
- In terms of the Equality Act, the South African Human Rights Commission and Commission on Gender Equality are mandated, to assist complainants in taking their matters to the Equality Courts.
WHAT TYPE OF CASES CAN YOU REPORT AT THE EQUALITY COURTS?
- The Equality Courts deal with complaints that are about unfair discrimination, hate speech or harassment.
- If you believe you or someone was treated badly because of hatred or bias based on one of the following: race, gender, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, color of your skin, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion conscience & belief, culture, language, birth, nationality, HIV status or perceived status, economic or social status, family responsibility and status you can report your case at the Equality courts.
WHO CAN INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS IN THE EQUALITY COURTS?
- Anyone acting in his/her own interests can take a case to the Equality Court, even if you are not directly involved in what happened. This means a complaint to the court can be made against someone or an organisation you believe have failed to respect the rights of another person.
- Anyone acting on behalf of another person who cannot act in his/her own name.
- Anyone acting as a member of, or in the interests of a group or class of people.
- Anyone acting in the interest of the public.
- Any association or organization or body acting in the interests of its members; or The South African Human Rights Commission or the Commission on Gender Equality.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU WANT TO REPORT A CASE?
- Visit the Equality court which is found in the Magistrate court near you.
- Speak to the Equality Court clerk who will give you necessary forms to fill.
- Complete the forms and if unsure,ask the Equality court clerk for help.
- You must have all the necessary information needed for the case.
- Give the Equality clerk back the forms and he or she will advise the complainant about the next step.
We hope that this information will be of great help, for more information on the equality courts please visit an advice office near you or visit http://www.justice.gov.za/EQCact/eqc_faq.html. You can also check our website www.citizenjusticenetwork.org for information on our advice offices or WhatsApp us on 060 634 7542.
Information Source: http://www.justice.gov.za/EQCact/eqc_faq.html
Information gathered by: Prince Moloi and edited by Gladys Matasane