What is the Child Justice Forum?
The Western Cape Child Justice Forum is a unique entity that exists to monitor the numbers of children awaiting trial in the province and develops and promotes alternative methods of dealing with young offenders. Details on the forum are provided in this short descriptive article.
In 2000 the Provincial Government of the Western Cape was taken to court because the rights of 600 awaiting-trial children had been violated, as some had been kept longer than six months in overcrowded and bad circumstances.
In March 2000 a meeting of Provincial stakeholders, most notably the South African Police Service, the Department of Justice, Correctional Services, Social Development, Education and key non-governmental organizations was held to address this issue, as the problem seemed to stem from a lack of coordination between all role players. This was the beginning of the Western Cape Child Justice Forum.
A detailed planning process was drawn up to highlight the key problem areas, and identifying specific tasks and time frames for each role player. The forum oversaw the entire process and over a five-month period the number of children detained was reduced to less than one hundred. This requires ongoing intervention to maintain.
Over the years, the Child Justice Forum has been able to monitor numbers of awaiting trial children, work on the establishment of one stop facilities, champion the utilization of options such as diversion and promote restorative justice - all core components of the child justice system. The main purpose of the forum is to co-ordinate the activities of all the child justice role-players.
The Western Cape is the only province which has such a forum, but other provinces are considering implementing the model once the Child Justice Bill is enacted.
The Western Cape Child Justice Forum consists of representatives of the provincial Department of Social Development, SAPS, Dept. Justice, Dept Community Safety, Dept Correctional Services, NDPP, Magistracy, Regional Court, Legal Aid Board, Dept Education, Dept Home Affairs, Office of the Inspecting Judge, NICRO, Open Society Foundation, Community Law Centre, UCT Criminology, UMAC.
The secretarial function of the forum is currently carried out by the NGO, UMAC:
UMAC c/o Sean Tait
88 Station Road, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925
Tel: 021 448 3717
Fax: 021 448 5476
The Chair of the Forum is the Western Cape Provincial Co-ordinator of Probation Services,
Stan de Smidt
Tel: 021 483 4624
Fax: 021 483 4783
- Help when a child has been arrested (Service)