As I was licking my wounds last week after my car was stolen, I was wondering whether the culprits would ever be caught and, if so, brought to book, as the wheels of justice are more than often known to grind very slowly.
But I was reminded by the Constitutional Court that the wheels did indeed turn, although in some cases it may take years or decades.
It was heartwarming that the highest court in the country last week endorsed a high court judgment that there is no time limit on children and adults to lay charges of sexual and indecent assault against them.
The so-called Frankel eight made legal history when they turned to court to change the law which prevented victims of sexual abuse to charge their abusers 20 years after they were abused.
They brought hope to many who were sexually abused years and even decades ago, but who did not have the courage to come forward at the time.
While rape may be prosecuted at any time, victims of sexual abuse were limited to the 20 year time frame.
Although Sydney Frankel died in April last year, the eight did get justice in the end - maybe not for themselves, but for those out there who are in the same position.
The group claimed they were molested by Frankel in the 1970s and 1980s, when they were children.
While the court gave Parliament 24 months to get its house in order to enact remedial action, the court ruled that should Parliament fail to enact remedial legislation, their ruling will be automatically implemented.
This ruling is truly a victory for all victims of sexual abuse, as it gives them hope and hopefully closure.
A report by StatsSA shows that only 35.5% of sexual abuse survivors reported sexual offences to the police. The justices of the Constitutional Court called this “quite alarming”.
They remarked that the evidence before them revealed what countless women and children face. “It illuminates the systemic failures that enable violence and exploitation of them to occur,” the court said.
Counsel for the Women’s Legal Centre, who was admitted as a friend of the court, said there were numerous reasons why adult survivors choose to report the sexual offences against them only years later. This includes that their personal circumstances may change and they may become more mature within time and process the trauma better.
We can only hope that many victims who despaired in the past that they will not be heard will now come forward in a bid to bring their abuser to book.
In another case which illustrates that the wheels of justice grinds at a snail’s pace, but that it does eventually turn, is that of ANC operative Nokuthula Simelane, who was abducted in the parking area of the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg more than 34 years ago and never seen again.
Her abductors and alleged killers will at last have their day in court, after the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, ordered that the police had to pay the legal costs of the three former security policemen implicated in her death.
The case was on hold for more than a year, to afford the accused the opportunity to launch an application to force the police to foot their legal bill.
Simelane’s family, who supported the application by Willem Coetzee, Anton Pretorius and Frederick Mong are delighted that they could now perhaps get answers to what happened to their loved one all those years ago.
Simelane’s sister, Thembisile Nkadimeng joined the proceedings and said the family wanted the trial to proceed and justice to be done.
Judge Cynthia Pretorius said the State machinery had throughout failed the deceased and her family abysmally.
She said the delay to bring this matter to trial has lasted decades. Since the indictment of the three applicants, the matter was postponed four times to resolve the matter regarding legal assistance.
Perhaps one of the best examples that justice is done at the end, although it takes time, is South Africa’s first post apartheid treason trial.
The trial of the 22 Boeremag members started in May 2003, but was postponed numerous times for an array of reasons, but mostly for the group to sort out their legal aid funding.
They were eventually sentenced 10 years later, on October 29, 2013, when the ringleaders received sentences which varied between 10 and 25 years in jail.
This was truly a marathon trial, but in the end justice was done.
While many despair and do not have much faith in the justice system, it does prove to be effective at the end of the day to insure that justice is done - although it can sometimes be painfully slow.
* Zelda Venter is a senior court reporter for Pretoria News.