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Justice department makes progress towards improved governance and access to justice

12 October 2016

Minister for Justice and Correctional Services, Adv Michael Masutha today emphasised the strides being made by the departments within his portfolio towards stronger governance. He indicated that all ten annual reports that were being tabled in Parliament under his portfolio received unqualified audits, with the exception of the Third Party Funds (TPF) report. Minister Masutha did, however, assure the Portfolio Committee that the TPF progressed from a disclaimer of opinion in earlier years to a qualified opinion in the year under review.

He also reinforced the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s (DOJ&CD) commitment to transform the legal system and to build a new legal order for our people that is founded on the principles and values of our Constitution.

“The renaissance of our legal system must uphold the founding values of our constitutional democracy, notably those of: (a) Human dignity, the achievement of equality, and the advancement of human rights; (b) Non racialism and non-sexism; as well as (c) language which is both a founding value and a human right,” Minister Masutha said.  

To this extent, Minister Masutha indicated that the Department would be tabling a number of Bills during the year, including the Traditional Courts Bill, legislation that criminalises racism and hate crimes as well as the Cyber Crimes Bill.

The Traditional Courts Bill, in particular, seeks to recognise the significance of the African traditional value system as part of dispute resolution. Some of the principles in respect of which there is general consensus are: (a) the nature of the courts; (b) progressive measures to promote equal participation of women in the traditional courts; (c) the consensual nature of the courts which incorporate the right to opt in or out; and (d) enforcement mechanisms which will be implemented by Justices of the Peace who will be drawn from the ranks of paralegals.

In broadening access to justice for more South Africans, Minister Masutha committed the DOJ&CD to intensify the use of the services of paralegals in niche areas, while also seeking to   regulate and professionalize paralegalism.

The Department is also expected to continue with the project of rationalising magisterial districts in Free State and Northern Cape Provinces in the current financial year.  

Further, the Department will endeavour to meet its target of establishing a small claims court in all magisterial districts during the current financial year.

Minister Masutha also lauded improved performance in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). “The NPA continues to excel in its performance against set targets and it has attained in the overall 93% conviction rate during the period under review,” he said. 

The Minister is convinced that improved governance and access to justice will deepen the country’s democracy and ensure that rights of all people who live in South Africa are protected.

Issued by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

Mthunzi Mhaga
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services