The Centre for Community Justice and Development (CCJD) has evolved from its roots in the community outreach programme implemented by The Centre for Criminal Justice (CCJ) at The University of KwaZulu-Natal from 1997 to 2012. Owing to the restructuring at the University, the outreach programme was moved out of UKZN in 2012 and established as an independent non-profit organization, CCJD. CCJD now oversees the work of the outreach programme, supporting the continuing development of the advice offices as they move towards full independence as NPOs in their own right.

The move out of the University gave CCJ the opportunity to review its name to better reflect the outreach programme. Our new name reflects our emphasis on providing access to justice to rural communities, on negotiation and mediation rather than criminalising people, and on issues of economic development. 

A Research Centre

CCJD was formerly CCJ, which was founded in 1989 by staff of the School of Law of the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg. It was established as a research centre aimed at promoting and protecting human rights in the criminal justice system, and was formed as a response to the failure of the system to deal effectively with the political violence in the greater Pietermaritzburg area. 

Professor Tony Matthews

From 1991 to 1993, research at CCJ led to high-profile conferences on policing, the prosecution services and women under the criminal justice system. The success of these conferences, which owed much to the work, reputation and international stature of CCJ Director Professor Mathews (left), led to the establishment of influential working groups and to one of the first high-level meetings of major political parties on the issue of policing. These discussions in turn contributed to change in the relevant areas of the criminal justice system.

Community Outreach Programme

Zandile visit.pngThe changing political order from apartheid to democracy, with the accompanying equitable legislation, saw CCJ shift its focus away from research to expanding people’s access to their new rights. In 1997 it started the Community Outreach Programme, by which advice offices were established at institutions of criminal justice around KwaZulu-Natal. Paralegal staff aimed to work with police and magistrates to help women and children in rural areas who were victims of rape, sexual assault and other forms of abuse. The program aimed to equip women and children with the knowledge and skills to learn about and claim the rights guaranteed by the new democratic constitution: otherwise, these rights would only be on paper. Since the aim was in part to encourage women and children to come forward to report crimes, the staff of the outreach program were all female.

Soon an increasing number of men also wanted help with issues such as labour disputes and obtaining pensions, social grants and child maintenance. Therefore the advice offices widened their scope and used the law and state services to try to solve almost any legal, social or personal problem that individuals had.

In 2009, CCJ began to revive the emphasis on research that characterised it during the early 1990s, aiming to attract and fund researchers and to fulfil its duty as part of the University to generate knowledge that is shared by others. While contributing to the publication of works and the sharing of knowledge, research has also always been used to improve and refine the service of coordinators.

From CCJ to CCJD

In 2012, the restructuring at The University of KwaZulu-Natal gave CCJ the opportunity to review its strategy of community engagement. It decided to move out of the University and register as an independent non-profit organisation under a new name: The Centre for Community Justice and Development (CCJD). The feeling was that this name better reflects the work of the outreach programme, with its emphasis on disadvantaged communities, and on negotiation and mediation rather than on criminalising people. The focus of the Centre’s activities, on promoting access to justice, has remained the same. 

CCJD oversees the continuing development of the advice offices. In 2011 these were registered as independent NPOs, and they have received training from CCJD in governance, financial and human resource management.

In the future, the aim is to develop the capacity of its fifteen affiliated advice offices so that they become permanent community-based paralegal institutions. To achieve this, CCJD is currently providing additional training in financial management, fundraising, bookkeeping and governance so that the community-based advice offices will be able to operate with full independence as individual NPOs.