Integrated Justice System (IJS)
The IJS aims to increase the
efficiency and effectiveness of the entire criminal
justice process by increasing the probability of
successful investigation, prosecution, punishment
for priority crimes and, ultimately, rehabilitation
of offenders. Further issues receiving specific
attention include overcrowding in prisons and
awaiting-trial prisoner problems, as well as bail,
sentencing and plea-bargaining.
Government wants to eliminate duplication
of services and programmes at all levels. The
need for strategic alignment of cluster activities
has also been raised at a series of governmental
meetings and forums.
The benefits of proper alignment include:
- less duplication of services
- effective use of scarce and limited resources and skills
- joint strategic planning and a planned approach instead of simply reacting to problems.
The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster has structured itself to focus on two
main areas of responsibility, namely operational
and developmental issues relating to the justice
system, and improving the safety and security of
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Modernising the justice system
This aspect includes establishing proper governance structures, effective monitoring mechanisms based on proper review findings and the integration and automation of the justice system.
The IJS Board Programme comprises the following:
- The Transversal Subprogramme which focuses on the enablement of interdepartmental information exchange and clusterwide performance-management information services through the established IJS Transversal Hub.
- Six departmental subprogrammes which focus on the modernisation of system
capabilities within departments. While each department within the JCPS Cluster must have its own IT plan to achieve its specific vision, mission and objectives, the IJS Board coordinates the broader and shared duty to integrate information flow throughout the CJS.
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Children's Act, 2005
Act, 2005 (Act 38 of 2005) [PDF], came into effect in April 2010. The Department of Social Development is the lead department for the implementation of the Act. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development's main responsibility is towards children's court operations relating to the Act.
As the Act also emphasises the effective implementation by all organs of state in an integrated, coordinated and uniform manner, the Implementation of the Children's Act Working Group was established in 2010 to address challenges the department faced in implementing the Children's Act, 2005. Two meetings during the latter part of 2010 brought about the creation of the Children's Act Training Reference Group, which was launched in 2011/12. It assists in ensuring that key stakeholders are sufficiently versed in the Children's Act, 2005 and the challenges it presents.
The department has developed a child-friendly Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) link on itswebsite. The FAQ serves as a resource point for the public and is updated frequently. The FAQ also includes links to the websites of the Department of Social Development, and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). In addition, the department created an e-mail address, which the public may use to contact the department on issues relating to children.
The Children's Court is the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development's principal legal mechanism to intervene and assist children who are in need of care and protection. To gather statistics from the children's courts, the department developed the Children's Court Monitoring Tool. Data about matters coming to court relating to children in need of care is gathered monthly.
Section 14 of the Children's Act, 2005 states that every child has the right to bring a matter to the Children's Court. This means that every children's court can serve as a direct entry point for a child to seek help and protection. Children's courts have been rendered highly accessible through the Act. Children's courts must be child-friendly and conducive to the participation of the child.
Child Justice Act, 2008
In April 2010 South Africa implemented the Child Justice Act, 2008 (Act 75 of 2008) [PDF] as part of an ongoing effort to promote and protect the constitutional rights of children in conflict with the law. The Act provides special measures for children in conflict with the law, designed to break the cycle of crime and restore in these children a lifestyle that is law-abiding and productive.
The National Policy Framework was tabled in Parliament in June 2010, and published in August 2010. The remarkable decline in the number of children awaiting trial in prisons marks a further success in the implementation of the Act. The number of children between the ages of 14 and 17 who were in prison and awaiting trial dropped from 502 in April 2010 to 298 in December 2010.
The department further established governance structures to ensure the effective intersectoral implementation of the Act. The Directors-General Intersectoral Child Justice Committee (DG ISCJC) was established to give strategic direction in the clusteral implementation of the Act. The National Operational Intersectoral Child Justice Committee was established to give technical support to the DG ISCJC.
Nine provincial child justice forums are coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Act at provincial level.
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Restorative justice is a response to crime that focuses on the losses suffered by victims, holding offenders accountable for the harm they have caused and building peace
As defined by the Justice, Crime Prenvention and Security (JCPS) Cluster, the restorative-justice concept is an approach to justice that aims to involve the parties to a dispute and others affected by the harm (victims, offenders, families concerned and community members) in collectively identifying harms, needs and obligations through accepting responsibilities, making restitution and taking measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident. This may be applied at
any appropriate stage after the incident.
Alternative dispute resolution is defined as the disposal of disputes outside the formal court proceedings. The processes and mechanisms may or may not include the
Restorative-justice strategies, programmes and processes in the criminal justice system are in place to try to heal the harm caused by the crime or offence, from a holistic point of view, for the victim, the offender and the community concerned, which will lead towards rebuilding broken relationships and encourage
social justice and social dialogue.
Any restorative-justice option, which may include but not be limited to victim-offender mediation or a family-group conference, is
always voluntary for the victim involved.
Therefore, such programmes and/or strategies will not be forced upon the victim of
any crime or offence.
The JCPS Restorative-Justice Task Team, under the chair of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, drafted the Restorative-Justice Strategy during 2009/10, which the JCPS Development Committee approved in principle. It was submitted to the JCPS directors-general for
ratification during 2011.
These documents will be consulted further with national government departments, especially relating to the implementation strategy and costing; and with civil society and non-governmental organisations concerned. Regular reports will be submitted on progress made in implementing the
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Victim-Empowerment Programme (VEP)
This programme aims to improve services rendered
to victims of crime.
The National Prosecuting Authority has court-preparation officials on
contract who provide support to crime victims and
especially abused children, in preparing them for
The Victims Charter Project engaged non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) on the initiation of a capacity-building project for 2011/12. This will focus on training for NGOs and CBOs on the Victims Charter to influence a change in perception of the criminal justice sytems among NGOs and CBOs, in line with Outcome 3 of the JCPS.
The department appointed intermediaries in regions to assist child witnesses in presenting evidence in court.
The Service Charter for Victims of Crime [PDF] is expected to go a long way towards assisting crime victims and contributing to interdepartmental and cluster coordination and cooperation.
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The transformation of the judiciary remains one of government's key priorities. Through the efforts of the Judicial Services Commission, by mid-2011, of the 226 permanent judges, 40,3% (91) were white, 40,7% (92) were African, 9,3% (21) were coloured and 9,7% (22) were Indian. Overall, 26,3% were female.
Significant strides have been made in respect of the magistracy. Through the efforts of the Magistrates Commission, during the same period, of the 1 694 magistrates, 42,8% were white, 40,8% African, 7,6% coloured and 8,8% Indian. Overall, 37,6% were female and 64% male.
Legislation enacted to advance the transformation of the judiciary and enhance access to justice include the:
Some of the key principles introduced by the Act are the Code of Judicial Conduct and the requirement for financial disclosure by judicial officers. The disclosure of financial interest will ensure judicial officers' impartiality and eliminate corruption within the judiciary.
The code will serve as prevailing ethical standards for judicial officers and will, among other things, set the standard of behaviour of judicial officers, including the requirement to perform judicial functions diligently, impartially and expeditiously.
These far-reaching amendments are consistent with global trends to enhance the independence of the judiciary and increase public confidence in the judicial system.
The department redrafted the Constitution Amendment Bill and Supreme Courts Bill to accommodate the views of the judiciary, which emanated from the Judges Conference held in July 2009.
These Bills, which seek to consolidate the outstanding aspects relating to the transformation of the judicial system, provide, among other things, for the:
- Constitutional Court to be the apex court in South Africa
- Chief Justice as the head of the judiciary to be assigned the responsibility to develop and monitor the implementation and observance of norms and standards for the effective functioning of all the courts
- rationalising the high courts to ensure that there is equitable distribution of superior courts through the country
- enhancing the capacity of the Office of the Chief Justice to be commensurate with the added responsibilities of that office.
The Bills were submitted for processing during 2010/11.
A significant feature of the transformation of the judicial system, which will be addressed in a later Bill, relates to court administration.
A policy framework was drafted to seek ways of enhancing institutional independence commensurate with the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, which are the pillars of South Africa's constitutional democracy.
The transformation of the judiciary is closely linked with the transformation of the legal profession and scholarship.
The department continues to work in partnership with law schools in transforming the curriculum of the basic law degree to bring it in line with modern best practices. In addition to encouraging law schools to widen access to students from previously disadvantaged communities, these institutions will further be encouraged to forge linkages with leading law firms, prominent practitioners and relevant international organisations which will:
- ensure the relevance of the training they offer to the practical demands of the profession
- expose students, especially those from previously disadvantaged communities, to the profession to facilitate professional training prospects
- engage the legal profession in the evolution of a new legal system that expresses the constitutional and cultural aspirations of the new dispensation.
The department assists law graduates through its internship programme, which also provides research training, to give much-needed assistance to state legal officers, prosecutors, public defenders, the judiciary and the magistracy.
Transformation of the legal profession includes making judicial services accessible to the poor, the uneducated and the vulnerable. This entails establishing a physical presence in rural areas and townships, offering affordable fees and providing speedy and empathetic services. It also entails facilitating access to all aspects and levels of the profession by aspirant lawyers, especially those from previously marginalised backgrounds.
The provision of alternative dispute-resolution mechanisms is another key aspect of transforming justice services, making justice more accessible and more affordable.
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Integrated case-flow management (CFM)
The Department of Justice and Constitutional
Development is engaged in the development of
an enhanced version of the CFM Framework for
implementation by all stakeholders.
In the process, participants from other partner
organisations will make meaningful contributions
on the issues and blockages affecting the proper
implementation of CFM in the court environment.
Efforts to eradicate such blockages will be
proposed by adopting workable solutions. These
- continuous cooperation of stakeholders to implement and maintain CFM at all courts
- establishing judicial leadership and CFM buy-in processes in the lower and higher courts in the form of CFM forums
- facilitating and monitoring the creation of CFM governance structures to sustain productivity in the courts' environment
- maintaining the CFM concept (guidelines, plans, governance, reporting and systems).
Systems that support CFM in the courts include the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS). This system spans all disciplines of cases administered in the justice environment.
The ICMS draws on several core modules to perform basic functions such as information warehousing, case numbering and document scanning. The specific functionality for each court and office are then built around these foundations.
The following offices have started experiencing the benefits of the ICMS:
- ICMS Civil is deployed in all lower courts and 13 high courts
- ICMS Criminal is deployed in all lower courts
- ICMS Small Claims is used in all small claims courts and designated lower courts
- ICMS Masters has been introduced in all 14 Masters' offices and all 402 service points.
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Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters)
Amendment Act, 2007 (Act 32 of 2007) [PDF], provides a legal framework to support an integrated approach to the management of sexual offences, thereby aiming to reduce secondary trauma to victims of such violence.
In ensuring that the legal framework and the rights of victims are realised and operationalised to ensure effective service delivery, the Act prescribes in Section 62 the establishment of the Intersectoral Committee for the Management of Sexual Offence Matters, a monitoring framework overseen by the most senior government officials. This structure aims to eradicate the fragmented nature of service delivery by ensuring that the directors-general (DGs) of the relevant departments meet regularly to ensure coordination as the DGs' Intersectoral Committee on the Management
of Sexual Offences.
The functions of this committee are to develop the Draft National Policy Framework.
An operational intersectoral committee was established to support the work of the Intersectoral Committee of DGs at an operational level.
These departments ensure that there are specialised services to support the victims of crime during court processes. These include intermediary services, court-preparation services, forensic services, victim-friendly rooms and counselling, and are aimed at eliminating secondary traumatisation of victims.
The department has developed the National Register for Sexual Offenders, which was deployed in 195 courts.
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The main objective of the Maintenance
Act, 1998 (Act 99 of 1998) [PDF], is to facilitate the securing of maintenance moneys from parents and/or other persons able to maintain maintenance beneficiaries, mainly children, who have a right to maintenance.
Parents and/or guardians must maintain children in the proportion in which they can afford. Therefore, both parents and/or sets of families need to take responsibility for the maintenance of the child or children concerned.
Project Isondlo was a specific project launched by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to improve services in maintenance courts, for the purpose of facilitating the legal enforcement of maintenance for children.
The Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) that was piloted in 2010 in two provinces, was expected to be rolled out to all the courts during 2011/12. The purpose of the process is to alleviate the issues of collating statistics on different templates and to introduce case-flow and diary management of cases. The ICMS process will capture detailed information, which will help in collating and analysing statistics accurately, and also assist with case-flow management.
Guidelines for maintenance officials, as well as for the judiciary, have been developed and distributed to all courts for proper and common implementation of the Maintenance Act, 1998. Training has been and will be provided to all officials coming into the system for proper compliance with the obligations of the Maintenance Act, 1998.
TransUnion helps maintenance investigators to trace the whereabouts of beneficiaries and defaulters. The system has been decentralised and improved to also detect fraudulent usage. Every investigator coming into the system is trained.
The Maintenance Turnaround Strategy has been developed to improve the services of maintenance by introducing new systems for the next five years.
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Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
The EFT allows people to access maintenance payments through their bank accounts. This has reduced the need for maintenance beneficiaries to spend excessive time in queues at courts. In some instances, this has reduced their public transport costs and, in cases where the beneficiaries are employed, they do not have to spend unnecessary time away from work every month. In 2011, more than 185 000 beneficiaries were paid monthly by EFTs.
EFTs have been implemented in four of the six Guardian's Funds of the Master, namely in Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Grahamstown and Cape Town. Payments made in this way are available immediately to the beneficiary, as there is no need for a clearance period at the bank.
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The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is committed to supporting and promoting the rights of victims of domestic violence, especially women, children and the elderly, through the courts and criminal-justice processes. It also ensures that victims of such crimes are assisted through the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP), led by the Department of Social Development, which aims to improve their circumstances and quality of life.
Perpetrators of domestic violence should also be brought to court so that victims can be and feel more safe and secure.
During 2009/10, the department finalised a review of the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act 1998 (Act 116 of 1998) [PDF], in courts; and submitted the findings
to the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Development Committee, the VEP Task Team and the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with Disabilities, which gave a mandate to the department to develop the JCPS Domestic
Violence Strategy to link with the broader VEP.
The draft document was expected to be finalised in 2011/12. To achieve this, the JCPS Cluster mandated the department to chair a task team to draft the strategy.
Further services on domestic-violence matters
Various government departments have put measures in place to facilitate the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, 1998. For instance, resources have been made available for the folllowing:
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development launched and circulated guidelines in conjunction with and to support the judiciary in 2008, drafted by the Lower Court Management Committee. Recommended updates were discussed with the judiciary in 2010/11.
The Ndabezitha Project with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) trains traditional leaders and clerks of the court in domestic-violence matters in rural areas.
This includes the development of a safety tool and intersectoral statistical tool by the NPA and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, which were expected to be concluded during 2010/11.
The department engaged in research methodology called the 10-Year Review of Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, 1998 aimed at taking stock of all initiatives and projects in courts and the criminal justice system (CJS) to address the reduction and prevention of domestic violence.
Electronic forms and systems were developed and approved to be piloted at two magistrates' courts, after which it would be rolled out to all magistrates' courts' service points to improve the handling of domestic-violence cases.
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New programmes and systems enhancing the Criminal Justice System
Audio-Visual Remand System
The roll-out of the Audio-Visual Remand System allows for remand court proceedings to be conducted via video linkage, eliminating the unnecessary transportation of remand detainees to and from court and its associated risks. By September 2011, 47 courts and 22 correctional centres had been equipped with the system; and of the 47 courts, 17 were operational. Of the 22 correctional centres, 10 were operational.
Case-Reduction Backlog Project
The JCPS Cluster departments have introduced various interventions to deal with reducing case backlogs. The Case Backlog Reduction Project intervention was implemented in 2006.
Backlog cases are viewed as all those cases that have been on a district court roll for longer than six months, nine months on the regional court roll and 12 months on the High Court roll.
The Case Backlog Reduction Project assists those regional and district court centres in
identified priority areas countrywide that require focused attention.
The project's aim is to ensure that the inflow of the number of new cases is balanced by the
number of matters concluded and that matters are finalised more speedily.
Initially, the reduction of the regional court backlogs was the main focus area. After an investigation into the performance of the district courts, several high-priority district backlog courts were established in 2010.
By September 2011, there were 56 regional backlog courts and 22 district courts. There was a marked decrease in the number of outstanding cases from 218 660 to 197 391 (9,7%) between March and June 2011. Between June and July 2011, it decreased by a further 4 905 cases from 197 391 to 192 487.
The project assists with the appointment of additional magistrates, clerks, prosecutors, interpreters and legal-aid lawyers on contract to
augment court capacity at the identified priority centres.
From November 2006 until the end of March 2011, the project assisted with the removal of 36 974 cases from the court rolls of the identified priority centres, comprising 24 532 cases finalised through verdicts, 11 096 cases withdrawn and 1 346 cases transferred to other or higher courts.
The subbranch Court Performance of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is responsible for:
- developing and monitoring of processes and systems
- introducing case-flow management (CFM) that facilitates efficient and effective court and case management
- developing and facilitating the implementation of a court-management policy framework
- evaluating the quality of services and performance within the courts
- facilitating the development of uniform performance standards to enhance institutional performance.
As a service-delivery improvement programme, the CFM Project seeks to put in place institutional arrangements for integrated CFM in the court system. Given the broad and large sector of the justice system, this will be done incrementally over the years. The project supports the institutional arrangements by:
- establishing judicial leadership regarding CFM to achieve a holistic CFM judicial leadership
- re-engineering CFM support structures in the courts to respond adequately to the CFM regime.
The Court Performance Programme focuses on:
- increasing capacity at regions and courts to effect service delivery
- increasing and improving skills and competencies
- continued efforts to reduce case backlogs
- reviewing outdated court procedures/processes and the regulatory framework
- facilitating organisational efficiency
- facilitating efforts to secure skills required to operate the new systems and processes.
The Directorate: Court Efficiency's key priorities include:
- facilitating integrated CFM with stakeholders
- supporting the implementation of the Re Aga Boswa [PDF] (meaning "We are renewing") and Court Capacitation projects
- facilitating the implementation of multilingualism in courts and the developing of indigenous languages in line with constitutional imperatives
- facilitating the securing of standardised transcription services for courts across all regions, rendering case-management business intelligence support to information system management (ISM) in the development of information technology (IT) tools and systems, and supporting initiatives for the effective management of court records.
The directorate assists in court capacitation initiatives, namely:
- the United Nations (UN) Office on Drugs and Crime Court Integrity Project
- upgrading five pilot courts, namely Pretoria, Thembisa, Nelspruit, Mkobola and Kimberley with notice boards, flat-screen television sets and DVD players
- providing integrity training to 120 departmental, 15 NPA and 15 judicial officers
- conducting audits on the management of court records
- facilitating activities on the Court Capacitation National Centre for State Courts Project in consultation with all other stakeholders such as chief directors and regional heads
- engaging human resources (HR) and the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority and securing learnership programmes for court interpreters (R4 million)
- engaging in legislation development and finalising the legislative and operational framework for implementing and institutionalising the lay assessor system.
Source: South Africa Yearbook 2011/12
Editor: D Burger. Government Communication and Information System
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