Justice Minister holds a meeting with heads of court
4 Apr 2011
The Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe met with the heads of court on Sunday, 3 April 2011 in Cape Town. It was one of the regular and scheduled meetings that traditionally precede the sitting of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
This platform affords the Minister as a Cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice, to have a session with the heads of court and share information on matters that have an impact on the administration of justice. Accompanied by the Justice Director-General, Mrs Nonkululeko Sindane and two senior officials, the Minister reflected on progress made on a number of areas ranging from budget, pending legislation to operational challenges.
The judiciary was led by the Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo with the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal and various Judges President present.
The Minister indicated that this first meeting in this calendar year coincided with the beginning of government’s financial year where the department has experienced a budgetary cut of R1,4 billion over the 2010 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) cycle. “This calls on all of us to cut our coat according to the size of our cloth,” said the Minister. “We will be able to meet your expectations on certain areas; we may have to defer delivery on others to a future date. Where there are competing demands and resources are limited, hard choices and tough decisions must be made. It is not our understanding that the judiciary is unreasonable,” he added.
Bills and legislation
The Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Bill:
Following receipt of submissions and input from stakeholders, the revised formulation of the Bill took into account sentiments expressed and provide for the specialist High Courts (Labour Appeal Court and the Competition Appeal Court) to continue to exist. The earlier version of the Bill would have prolonged the finalisation of cases as it would have created an added layer of appeal on cases that require expediency.
The Superior Courts Bill:
There are no major changes from the proposed text of the Bill save for the seat of high court in both Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. The seat will now be in Pretoria and Grahamstown for Gauteng and the Eastern Cape respectively.
The Legal Practice Bill:
One of the objectives of the Bill is to redress the fragmentation and divisions in the legal profession; which are the remnants of the segregation policy our country endured before the realisation of our democratic dispensation. There are those areas around which there is no consensus. For this reason this law will be implemented in two phases, starting with those areas around which there is no dispute. This will allow time for us to find ways of dealing with the contested issues.
“The three Bills will go a long way in contributing towards the transformation of the judiciary and our legal system. They are now with the State Law Advisors for certification. I am optimistic that Parliament will be able to process these Bills very soon,” the Minister indicated.
The Judicial Matters Amendment Bill:
The Bill seeks to accelerate the establishment of the high courts in Limpopo and Mpumalanga ahead of the implementation of the Superior Courts Bill. Funds have been allocated in our 2011/12 financial year for the construction of these two High Courts which are expected to be ready by 2012. These courts will function independently of the North Gauteng High Court in January 2012. Pending the completion of the construction of the courts in these provinces, temporary accommodation has been secured both in Polokwane and Nelspruit and these will be used as the seat of the circuit courts of the North Gauteng High Court to deal with matters emanating from Limpopo and Mpumalanga respectively.
The Minister reflected on measures undertaken by the department in relation to increasing capacity at the courts to deal among other things with default judgments, especially at the South Gauteng High Court. Measures implemented in the short term have helped to stabilise and bring the situation under control.
Whilst the existence of hard copy material (journals, law reports and text books) is ideal and/or necessary for the judicial offers to be able to work, the department has identified other methods through which information for purposes of doing judicial work could still be made available. We have in place at least two licenses through which all judicial officers could electronically access material (law reports) that may be necessary for them to prepare their judgments among other things. We urge judges and magistrates to make themselves available for training.
The physical infrastructure expansion project for the South Gauteng High Court is on track. This will bring much needed relief to accommodation challenges faced by the court.
The department has committed to providing security infrastructure to all judges. This is a sensitive area around which we will not provide further details.
Cell: 082 3333 880
Source: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
Issued by: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
4 Apr 2011
[ Top ]