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Minister Muthambi briefs parliament on annual plans of the Departmental of Justice and Constitutional Development

28 March 2017

The Acting Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ms AF Muthambi today briefed the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional services on the annual performance plans of the Department.

During the briefing, Minister Muthambi reiterated the Department’s commitment to implement the National Development Plan (NDP): vision 2030 and make a meaningful contribution in building safer communities. This will be done within the confines of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF: 2015 – 2019) which outlines specific objectives for the implantation of the NDP.
As part of these plans, the Minister indicated that the Department will implement an intensive legislative programme. Recently the Department finalised and tabled in parliament the Traditional Courts Bill, Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill. “With the assistance of the reference group we have addressed the concerns that were raised in relation to the Traditional Courts Bill”, Minister Muthambi said.

Further, the Department announced the Renaissance Project that seeks to review all apartheid era legislation and ensure that they are consistent with the Constitution. This is in addition to Project 25 which looked primarily into all legislation’s compliance with the section 9 (the right to equality) of the Constitution.

The Department is also giving attention to the development of policy and legislative framework on Community Courts and the optimal use of Advice Centres as mechanisms for enhancing access to justice. These structures, not only create alternative forms of access to justice, but create platforms for effective use of Paralegals who provide an essential service to communities who cannot afford services of a legal practitioner.

The Department remains committed to the transformation of the Judiciary remains.  For instance, soon after the appointment of 27 Regional Magistrates in October 2015, Minister Masutha appointed 4 Chief Magistrates. The Department has also received recommendations from the Magistrates Commission for the filling of 48 posts of Senior Magistrates in various Magistrates Courts country-wide and appointments will be made before the end of this week. 

In respect of the Superior Courts, the Judicial Service Commission is scheduled to sit in the week of 3 – 7 April to interview candidates for the filling of 13 vacant offices of judges in various Superior Courts.  These include the positions of Deputy Chief Justice, President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, a Judge of the Constitutional Court, and Judges President of three of the nine Divisions of the High Court.

“The nomination by Honourable President Zuma of the first woman candidate for the position of President of the Supreme Court of Appeal underscores the ANC Government’s commitment to gender transformation”, Minister Muthambi says. 
Minister Muthambi also highlighted the Department’s commitment to promote access to justice. The Minister alluded to the sterling work performed by the Legal Aid South Africa in making access to justice a reality for the poor and vulnerable groups. Minister Masutha has started to engage with Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform to discuss the role that Legal Aid South Africa could play in the assisting indigent claimants in land restitution matters.

The Department is closer to achieving its commitment to establish a Small Claims Court in all magisterial districts. “By this Friday 31 March 2017 we would have proclaimed the last 4 remaining Small Claims Courts in the Winburg (FS), Theunissen (FS), Odendaalsrus (FS), and Reddersburg (FS) magisterial districts” Minister Muthambi committed.

As one of the mainstay access to justice projects which is aimed at redressing spatial injustices of the apartheid past, the Department is continuing with the rationalisation of magisterial districts with municipal boundaries. The rationalisation would ensure that all communities access justice within their vicinity.

In making a contribution to the fight against crime, the Department is working together with cluster departments to improve coordination and enhance efficiency in the criminal justice system. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is looking at strengthening its capacity to deal with organised crime, fraud and corruption. As part of this commitment the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) has issued 8 proclamations and submitted 5 reports on completed investigations to the President.

Issued by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

Mthunzi Mhaga
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services