A Balance act for the Prosecutor: Restorative justice, criminal justice and access to justice
An international appraisal of prosecutors’ perceptions depicts a uniform tendency for prosecutors to see their role as one of ‘presenting evidence in court to get convictions, rather than promoting problem solving’. Many young law graduates dream of a courtroom battle similar to those in popular television series, which tend to glorify the role of the prosecutor in a dramatic depiction of good versus bad. However, reality soon sets in regarding the numerous challenges faced in the criminal justice system. Court backlogs, high case loads, delays in processing huge numbers of remand offenders, and overcrowded correctional facilities plague the system. It is probably within this context that restorative approaches to justice in the pre-trial phase became attractive for the South African prosecutor. This article examines prosecutorial engagement with restorative approaches to justice, and more specifically the KwaZulu-Natal Justice and Restoration Programme.