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Lamola Brings Courts Closer To The People

03 April 2022

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mr Ronald Lamola, MP, has gazetted the conversion of certain places for the holding of courts (branch courts) and periodical courts, as well as the creation of magisterial districts and the establishment of district courts for the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape, with effect from 1 April 2022.

This is a significant milestone in enhancing access to justice in our country.

With effect from 1 April 2022 courts in the abovementioned four provinces will be reconfigured to ensure that their jurisdictional boundaries make the justice system accessible in a manner which is convenient to court users and the general public. 

“As a result of the new jurisdictional boundaries at magistrates court level, we will no longer have a situation where people have to travel long distances and, in some instances, go past the courts in their own towns which are closer to where they live, in order to get to other areas to access the court system and ultimately justice,” said Minister Lamola.

With regards to the other provinces, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development commenced with the implementation of rationalisation of courts project in December 2014 and the project was implemented in the Gauteng, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape provinces.

With the advent of democracy in 1994, save for the establishment of the Constitutional Court, the reform of the Appellate Division into the Supreme Court of Appeal and the establishment of a new judicial appointment regime, the judicial system, in terms of its structure, characteristics and culture remained as it was under the apartheid era, subject to its transformation as mandated by the Constitution.

The transformation is underpinned by the constitutional imperative that all courts must be rationalised with a view to establishing a judicial system that is consistent with constitutional democracy and the principle of access to justice.

The rationalisation of courts is a protracted and complex exercise that requires an inclusive and integrated approach which enlists the participation and consultation across the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster and other stakeholders within the justice sector such the legal profession.

Furthermore, the Magistrates Courts’ boundaries have been rationalised in order to give effect to the District Development Model (DDM).  The DDM embodies an approach by which the three spheres of government and state entities work in unison in an impact-oriented way, and where there is higher performance and accountability for coherent service delivery and development outcomes.

At the heart of the DDM is the need to ensure that national priorities such as economic growth and employment, improvements of living conditions, the fight against crime and corruption and better education outcomes are attended to in the locality concerned.

The full-service courts will exercise jurisdiction as provided for in terms of the law, in relation to any offence committed, or cause of action which has arisen in order to redress the pre-1994 legacy, which deprived communities in certain rural and former black townships of equal access to justice and benefit of the law.

Having full-service courts closer to the people will ultimately make justice more accessible to the public.

Spokesperson: Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
Chrispin Phiri
Contact: +27(0) 81 781 2261