oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Community courts: official recognition and criminal jurisdiction - a comparative analysis

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



Since the 1940s community courts have developed as alternative justice mechanisms in the black townships. The future regulation of these courts has recently become an issue. Against the background of the process of democratisation and the constitution with its bill of rights, it has become necessary to evaluate these courts with the aim of adapting them to the changing circumstances. The aim of this article is twofold: firstly, to look briefly at the feasibility of granting community courts a measurable degree of legitimacy by developing an officially recognised system, and secondly, to consider whether these courts should enjoy criminal jurisdiction, and if so, the restrictions which should be placed on such jurisdiction. These aspects will be discussed with reference to comparative research into informal courts in other jurisdictions, such as the informal Indian tribal courts in Michigan (America); the informal courts in Australia (Queensland and Western Australia), and others.

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