Opinion: Unhelpful employees a disgrace to Mbombela’s Domestic Violence Court

Lazy state employees rarely fail to disappoint.

As soon as you think ‘now I’ve seen it all,’ some guy  in a government chair somewhere manages to exceed your worst expectations.

Today was one of those days.

I accompanied a colleague to the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court where we sought to apply for a protection order.

By law, this is supposed to be a complainant-friendly process – fast and easy justice. Thanks to the employees at the Domestic Violence court, it has become nothing of the sort.

We queued to see the responsible Department of Justice employees at 14:00. By 14:15, no one had arrived to process protection order applications.

A man occupied one of the court’s domestic violence offices. He claimed that he could not assist the complainant.


“Do people generally take lunch until 14:15?” I asked a woman. She just shook her head and said: “yeah.”

By 14:30, I complained towards a court clerk working in another department. “As a journalist I feel obliged to report on court employees not being bothered to work,” I threatened. She nodded, sighed and said: “maybe you should.”

It was about 14:45 when a woman arrived at the other office. Naturally, she claimed that she was not the one we were looking for. We were sent back to the man who claimed he was not supposed to assist us either. I refused.

“Either you do your job or I will report on the fact that you don’t.” I had reached the point where I was threatening to expose the woman publicly.

She reacted by doing her job and processing my colleague’s application – an hour later.

Here’s my question: Is that what it takes?

Would you have taken another hour to help us, had you not been threatened with being exposed publicly?

Department of Justice spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga was called for comment on today’s events, but could not be reached telephonically.





Helene Eloff
Legal Adviser & Journalist

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