The Wits
Investigative Journalism Workshop (IJW) has launched the Justice Project which aims to find systematic shortcomings in South Africa’s
justice system, writes Andile Makholwa.


The five-year
project  will investigate the cases of
people who have been awaiting trial for unduly long periods. It is being
supported by the Valley Trust.

director Birgit Schwarz says there are cases of people who have been awaiting
trial for longer than eight years.

people are arrested they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It is
against human rights that people are in jail for an unduly long time without
knowing what will happen to their case,” she says.

says the project is currently working on a case study of a Gauteng  prisoner who has been waiting for his day in
court for a full 12 years.   

adds that the project will get legal and other support from various partners,
including the Wits Law Clinic and the Legal Resources Centre.

 It will
also be working closely with the Julia Mashele Trust, which deals with
prisoners awaiting trial. The director, Julia Mashele, was the longest female awaiting
trial prisoner.

says the project will also be using computer-aided reporting, and hopes to
identify centres of excellence in the justice system and those that do not
perform well.

project is set to study cases and has a long-term ambition of becoming an
advocacy project.