The newly reconstructed Goodwood Municipal Court was officially reopened after it was demolished last year to make way for a more modern court as part of a wider precinct upgrade.
The City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Area Central, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli, and the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery today jointly unveiled a plaque to signify the official opening of the newly built Goodwood Municipal Court.
The old court building was demolished in 2016 by the City’s Transport and Development Authority (TDA) who identified the court building as part of their project to refurbish the entire precinct. In addition to the municipal court, other departments located within the precinct are Fire and Rescue Services, Disaster Risk Management, Traffic Services and TDA.
During her keynote address at the opening, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services, Councillor Raelene Arendse said, ‘The reconstruction of the Goodwood Municipal Court is in line with the values of the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan that strives to build an organisation that is customer-centric. The enhancements in the new court building will ensure that our customers have a more pleasant experience at our facility. I am proud that the quality of our services sets a benchmark for other municipalities to follow. A few have visited the City on a fact-finding mission with the intention of establishing municipal courts in their municipalities’.
The City’s partnership with the relevant stakeholders dates back to 2000, when a Memorandum of Understanding was concluded with the Department of Justice, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and other stakeholders to establish the first municipal court on 18 April 2000, known as the Cape Town Municipal Court which operated from the City Hall.
Today, the City operates 11 municipal courts that are located across the metro in Parow, the CBD, Goodwood, Strand, Blue Downs, Mitchells Plain, Wynberg, Khayelitsha, Atlantis, Simon’s Town and Somerset West.
‘Such partnerships between the various spheres of government are crucial to enable us to deliver services successfully to our residents. Only if we work in close collaboration will we be able to make progress possible. Our customers need to be at the centre of all we do. It is important to note that some court functions, such as traffic violation representations prior to set court dates, are not limited to the residents of Goodwood and surrounding areas only, but are open to residents from outside these areas and working within the Goodwood municipal court jurisdiction area,’ said Councillor Mamkeli.
The new Goodwood Municipal Court boasts a number of enhancements such as improved access for the public to pay their fines and to make enquiries and representations. Parking is available in close proximity to the court which allows for ease of access for clients. The lighting for the court complex has been upgraded and fitted with motion sensors which help to save on electricity consumption. The access from the holding cells to the court has been newly designed in such a way that there will be minimal disruption of court proceedings.
In view of the increasing workload, the court will sit on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a dedicated magistrate, two prosecutors and administrative support staff that includes court interpreters and court orderlies.
Initially the role of the municipal courts was to primarily prosecute cases related to traffic offences. However, over the years there has been a gradual increase in the number of cases brought before the court through the municipal enforcement of the local authority by-laws and national legislation related to the following:
- The National Building Regulations
- Health legislation
- The Business Act
- The Municipal Planning By-law dealing with land-use issues and enforcement
- The Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law, in other words prohibited behaviour and noise nuisances
- The enforcement of the Graffiti, Informal Trading, Community Fire Safety, Air Quality, Animal and Environmental Health By-laws
- The enforcement and prosecution of water-wasters in terms of the Water By-law, especially during this period of drought
Municipal courts operate in accordance with, among others, the Magistrates’ Court Act, the Criminal Procedures Act, and the various Department of Justice codes.
Many years ago, the Goodwood Municipal Court dealt with a court roll of approximately 300 cases per day. More recently this number has increased to about 450 cases per day and includes first appearance cases, Section 72 cases, by-law transgressions, and arrests.