By ‘Odidi Matai-Sigudla
The Makana Civil Community Coalition (MCCC) has petitioned the Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola to stop the Makhanda High Court from being moved to Bhisho.
MCCC chairperson, Dr Mpumezo Noel Hope Ngesi and the MCCC’s spokesperson, Likhanya Ngqezana, sent a letter to Lamola on 29 March to voice the MCCC’s objection to the High Court being moved. They implored Lamola, who set up the Courts Rationalizations Committee, and Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Mosenke, who chairs the committee that has proposed the move, to hear the voices of Makhanda.
“We position ourselves as a platform upon which civil society organizations, individuals, business community, and faith-based organizations can collaborate and become one voice, to mitigate instances such as the one we are facing now with the imminent removal of the High Court,” said Ngesi.
The High Court in Makhanda celebrates its 160th year in 2024. “It is especially poignant that this potentially catastrophic move and agenda is pushed on the eve of the 160th year since the main seat and the high court was established in 1864”, Ngesi said.
Ngqezana added that “the new must be created, and the old must be preserved. In all social systems, you don’t destroy what you have. You consolidate it. Try and fix what’s wrong with the town instead of getting out of the town,” he said.
Ngqezana pointed to the example of Detroit, a previously flourishing city in the United States, that is now a shadow of itself, filled with vandalized buildings, high unemployment, and high crime rates. “We do not want Makhanda to follow. They shouldn’t try to appease one town in (spite) of another”, he said.
The MCCC also questioned why the government would want to spend approximately R1 billion on moving the High Court, when the same amount of money spent on Makhanda would turn the town’s fortunes around.
“You cannot have one department pushing to implement such trifling agendas just to tick a box that now we have achieved it, the main seat of the High Court is in the capital town of the Eastern Cape. You cannot have one government department going off on a tangent affecting the lives of the people the way this move will affect the lives of the people of Makana; we cannot have that. Otherwise, they might as well give Nathi Mthethwa his R22 million flag,” Ngesi declared.
The Makana Civil Community Coalition (MCCC) aims to work with the government and get involved in all community-building issues. It has taken the position to support the Makana municipality in its “endeavours” to turn around the social and economic condition of the municipality and the people of Makana.
“We are not fighting with the government. We are out to ensure that any agenda that will change the lives of the people of Makana for the better succeeds,” Ngesi added. “However, the opposite is also true, we can never fold our arms in the face of this monster … raising its ugly head back again to haunt us as the people of Makana,” he said, referring to the fact that this is the fifth time the government has tried to move the Makhanda High Court.
The MCCC has yet to receive a response or note of acknowledgment from Lamola or the president’s office, whom the MCCC copied in the letter. They have decided that they will determine how to move forward in seven days time.
The MCCC was established in August 2022 to stand for the interests of the people of Makhanda with the view of turning around the economic conditions and livelihoods in the town.