Deputy Minister of Justice and Development, John Jeffery, yesterday paid an oversight visit to the Chatsworth Magistrate's Court. Picture: Supplied
Durban - One of the major issues affecting the swift processing of cases at the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court is the high number of “petty issues” that are flooding court rolls.

This was revealed by Deputy Minister of Justice and Development John Jeffery yesterday after an oversight visit to the court and inspection of the upgrading of the building.

After closed meetings with staff, Jeffery said a pressing problem affecting the court was the amount of harassment cases.

There were complaints from magistrates and Legal Aid about the extent to which these matters were affecting court rolls.

He said Chatsworth residents resorted to applying for harassment orders instead of looking at other methods to sort out their issues.

“For example, a person hangs up their underwear on a washing line. A neighbour is not happy with it. They begin hurling comments at each other, which ultimately ends up as an harassment order in court. Attorneys get involved and the process is dragged to court.”

He urged residents to look at ways of resolving conflict in a non-confrontational, non-violent way.

“We have to examine the Protection and Harassment Act and look at finding other ways of resolving disputes.”

Another challenge, Jeffrey said, was effectively managing security amid renovations.

Asked if added security measures were being implemented at courts after a 33-year-old woman was shot dead by her estranged police officer husband in the Durban Magistrate’s Court last year, he said each court had been mandated to do thorough checks before allowing firearms on to the premises.

Jeffrey, however, said the incident at the Durban court was an isolated one.

The construction upgrade, which includes new offices, courtrooms and holding cells at the Chatsworth court, is expected to be completed by June.

The Mercury