Justice Today

Justice Today, March 2019

Justice in Action

Justice Quick Facts

March 2019

25YersThis year South Africa celebrates 25 years of democracy. It is an opportune time to reflect on the strides made by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in broadening access to justice for all.


  • Magistrates: The appointment of 176 magistrates, that became effective in February 2018, constitute  53% total Black (generic) female and a 92% grand total Black (generic) males and females. As at February 2018, there were 2 175 magistrates.
  • Judges: There are 253 permanent judges. Of these, 66% are Black generic. Female judges constitute 35% of the total number of judges.

Improving access to courts and services

  • A total of five magistrate’s courts will be completed before the end of term of the fifth administration. These are Booysens Magistrates Court in Johannesburg, Plettenburg Bay Magistrates Court in the Western Cape as well as the Dimbaza and Bityi Magistrates Courts in the Eastern Cape.

Legal assistance

  • Legal Aid South Africa continues to grow from strength to strength in providing quality legal services to indigent South Africans. In 2017/2018, Legal Aid SA assisted 731 856 people – 426 617 people received legal representation in criminal and civil matters, and 305 239 people received legal advice. 16 350 children received legal representation.  

Sexual Offences

  • To date 76 regional courts around the country have been upgraded into Sexual Offences Courts and are fully operational. Sexual Offences Courts provides specialised victim-support services to improve the effectiveness of sexual offences matters and improves the turnaround time of conviction rates.

Child Maintenance

  • On a monthly basis, the Department facilitates monthly maintenance payments of an average of R160 million to nearly 270 000 beneficiaries of which 98% are receiving these payments via the electronic funds transfer (EFT) system.

Small Claims Courts

  • The department has continued to expand its footprint of Small Claims Courts in the country which allows for speedy, inexpensive and informal legal recourse for matters of R20 000 and under. To date the department has established 415 small claims courts.

Masters’ services

  • During the 2017/18, the Master’s Branch issued a total of 152 540 appointments of which 144 928 was done within the stipulated 15-day timeframe. This means that 95.01% of all finalised matters were done within the timeframe stipulated.

Implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations

  • Education assistance to TRC-identified victims and their families has been on-going since 2015. In 2018, 1 353 beneficiaries were assisted with basic education support and 457 in higher education.
  • The Pretoria Gallows Exhumation Project continues with remains of 59 political activists being exhumed by November 2018, of which 46 were handed over to families for reburial.