By ‘ODIDI MATAI-SIGUDLA AND ANGA BUSHWANA
The Makhanda High Court Action Committee (MHCAC), which opposes a new plan to move the High Court from Makhanda to Bhisho, has been invited to present its case in person before the Moseneke Commission in Pretoria.
The MHCAC is awaiting the date of the meeting and intends to use the opportunity to continue its strong lobbying against the move.
Chaired by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, the Moseneke Commission recommended to government last year that the Eastern Cape seat of the High Court be relocated to Bhisho.
The Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) this week became the latest organisation to join the opposition to the High Court’s potential relocation.
“Moving the High Court away from Makhanda would be equivalent to a Day Zero, with no prospect of rain anytime soon” said Mtumhle Kepe, the Deputy District Secretary of the YCLSA’s Chule “KK” Papiyane District.
Kepe added that the young people of Makhanda did not want to be sentenced to a life of reliance on government grants to stay afloat.
“Youth unemployment in Makhanda is high and a move like this does not assist in any way. Young people are drowning themselves in substance abuse to escape the realities of living in a town that has extremely limited opportunities for them,” Kepe added.
The MHCAC also reported this week that the deadline for objections to the move – originally 27 January 2023 – had been extended by the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services MP Ronald Lamola to 28 February 2023. No reason was given for this extension.
“The facts remain the facts and the truth will speak for itself in the consequences of a High Court move and jurisdiction amendments,” said Makena Moagi, secretary of the MHCAC.
Despite the many problems that Makhanda already faces with the water shortages and pothole filled roads, numerous locals risk becoming unemployed if the High Court relocates to Bhisho. Grocott’s Mail has previously reported that the only justification that the Justice Department’s Moseneke Commission has provided for proposing the move is that all other High Courts are situated in the capital cities of each Province.
According to the Eastern Cape socio-economic consultative council, the official unemployment rate in the province is forty-two point eight percent (42.8%) making it the highest unemployment rate in comparison to other provinces. If the high court relocates, Makhanda may hit a pit it may never come out from.
This is the fifth attempt to remove the High Court from Makhanda. The previous four attempts failed because it was accepted that removing the court from Makhanda would cripple the town’s economy and result in the closure of legal firms in Makhanda.