“I generally operate in a space where my faith is way bigger than what I can see or even explain. But today we got to enjoy the fruits of our tenacity in court: illegal gathering and public violence matter diverted to mediation against significant odds Gratitude to the amazing work of power ACCESS TO JUSTICE legal ADR team Krish Jairam Attorneys, Advocate Tango and Brandon Abdinor. All the hard work has not been in vain. Respect also to Mazibuye for bringing such issues to the fore. Let us go forth and replicate this stuff everywhere”
-Sheena St. Clair Jonker
I blog in peace.
As you know, we often intervene in matters before court and advocate for diversion or referral to Restorative Justice ADR Dialogue or mediation. In criminal matters this involves making representations to the Senior Public Prosecutor, and if unsuccessful, then the Director of Public Prosecutions, and if unsuccessful, then the National Director of Public Prosecutions.
One such matter, S v Sangweni and others involves 43 workers, and 3 leaders of a civil rights organization arrested and charged with illegal gathering and public violence. The organization, Mazibuye, is an organization that tirelessly and fearlessly advocates for the poor and addresses human rights violations head on. In this particular matter, the group had entered into negotiations on various unfair labour practices and other violations including pay as little as R 27 a day and the dispossession of Identity Documentation. Agreement was reached and when it was reneged on a few days later, the leaders lead the workers in a gathering and march. There are many dynamics at play including the fact that the Illegal Gatherings Act does not favour groups that gather and march in this way, even where it is an outworking of desperation and ongoing and unaddressed human rights violations. The Access to Justice Association of Southern Africa is intent on raising the constitutionality of this in the appropriate forum.
Yesterday the court in this matter ordered a diversion to mediation. This after seven months of representations and indications by the SPP that the content of the charges was ultra vires the NPA protocol on diversion. But working tirelessly and tenaciously, and completely pro bono, Access to Justice legal and dispute resolution team made up of Krish Jairam, Advocate Khaya Tango and Brandon Abdinor rallied up support of the Department of Labour, the Complainant Company and demonstrated to the DPP that such diversion is not only supported in our law, but accords with wisdom and reason. This is a victory for the potential to address the cause and interrupt a culture of simply reacting and suppressing those that have authentic concerns simply by pulling the Illegal Gathering card. This is also a victory for diversion to mediation which we intend to replicate all over the country as there are several such matters that we have been consulted in.
We are currently setting up substructures of the Access to Justice Association of Southern Africa in each province. As some of you know this is an NGO platform purposed to mobilize and resource lawyers and Dispute Resolution Practitioners to get in the way of injustice and specifically to provide Access to Justice for the poor. If you wish to be part of one of these substructures, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Our ADR Program now includes content on Court Annexed Mediation Rules (the project due to pilot across SA on 1 August) as well as advocacy in ADR and mediation diversion such as described above. We provide replicable written and oral representation protocol pioneered and developed in the course of our own practice in this.
To join training, please send an email to email@example.com
Upcoming dates are
Jozi 7-11 July
Bloem 21-26 July
Durban 4-8 August
Cape Town 25-29 August
Distance Learning over 12 months (can be fast tracked over 3 months)
As always, Peace