South African Government

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Administration of justice

Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Constitution
National Anti-Corruption Strategy
State Legal Services
Court services
Master of the High Court
Integrated Case-Flow Management Framework
Budget

 

 

 

 

Department of Justice & Constitutional Development

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) derives its mandate from a number of Acts, in addition to the mandate it derives from the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.

These Acts and the Constitutional Framework assign functions to the department, such as: 

  • the establishment of magistrate’s courts, and the appointment of magistrates and other judicial officers;
  • the establishment and functioning of the Special Investigating Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), including the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU);
  • the conducting of criminal proceedings;
  • the prosecution of organised crime and corruption, and the forfeiture of assets obtained through illicit means; 
  • the provision of witness protection to vulnerable and intimidated witnesses and their related persons in judicial proceedings;
  • the establishment and functioning of bodies responsible for legal aid, law reform and rule-making;
  • the appointment of masters of the high courts; 
  • the management of third-party funds;
  • the administration of the Guardian’s Fund and  deceased and insolvent  estates;
  • the regulation and provision of legal advisory services to government departments;
  • the promotion, protection and enforcement of human rights; 
  • the  protection of vulnerable groups; and
  • the provision of support to Chapter 9 institutions.

The National Development Plan (NDP) sets out a vision for building and maintaining safe communities in South Africa through, among other things, strengthening the criminal justice system. This vision is expressed in terms of Priority 5 (social cohesion and safe communities) of government’s 2019 – 2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The work of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is directly aligned with this priority in that a well-functioning criminal justice system provides relief to victims of crime, protects vulnerable groups and swiftly acts against perpetrators of corrupt activities.

Over the medium term, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will focus on improving access to justice services by digitising and automating processes; creating a criminal justice system that is focused on gender equality by designating 99 additional courts as sexual offences courts and increasing the number of Thuthuzela Care centres from 58 to 61; enhancing the fight against corruption and serious economic crimes by rolling out five new specialised commercial crime courts to have one in each province by 2022/23; and creating capacity for the Information Regulator by appointing 54 new staff.

Sexual offences courts play a critical role in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). A total of 100 sexual offences courts will be dedicated to improve the adjudication of sexual offences matters during the 2021/22 financial year.

Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Constitution

The year 2021 presented a significant landmark in the creation of constitutional democracy in South Africa. It marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution into law. The commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Constitution will extend beyond 2021 into 2022, as the Constitution’s legal entry into force will be marked on 4 February 2022.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, as custodian of constitutionalism in the country, in collaboration with key identified stakeholders, is embarking on leading and coordinating a focused national dialogue with the aim of reviewing and assessing the impact of 25 years of constitutional democracy in South Africa. This process aims to create a conversation about whether the intention of the Constitution to build a nation based on constitutionalism and human rights is being realised.

The project will be research and policy focused. It will culminate into a symposium to celebrate of 25 years of the Constitution.

This will be an opportunity for national and continental (and international) constitutional and human rights scholars to present their research focused on the implementation of the South African Constitution over the past 25 years. This research will be generated internally within constitutional development, as well as by researchers, universities, students and South African citizens. This research will be used to guide policy making within government. In the next five years, efforts will be made to increase and deepen the constitutional and human rights awareness of the citizenry.

National Anti-Corruption Strategy

The National Anti-Corruption Strategy, adopted by Cabinet in November 2020, has signalled the resolve of the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) to deliver on its work. Building on the key tenets of the Constitution, the Anti-Corruption Legal Framework, the NDP and other instruments, such as international treaties, the strategy uses research and stakeholder inputs to outline actions needed to achieve a society free of corruption. The strategy is a whole-of-society effort that envisions an ethical and accountable state, business and society, characterised by high levels of integrity and respect for the rule of law. It promotes active citizenry that is empowered to hold leaders and organisations accountable. It foresees a state where all members of society have zero tolerance for corruption.

This National Anti-Corruption Strategy provides a framework and action plan for the country as a whole and seeks to create a society in which:

  • government’s administrative and procurement processes are reinforced to allow for greater monitoring, accountability and transparency;
  • the public is educated about what constitutes corruption and empowered to respond when or where it is noted;
  • the public and whistle-blowers are encouraged to report corruption, are supported and adequately protected when doing so;
  • public officials are held accountable for service delivery or the lack thereof;
  • the business sector and civil society organisations operate in a values-driven manner and are held accountable for corrupt practices; and
  • there is a culture of zero tolerance towards corruption in any sector and full accountability for those involved in corruption.

The ACTT case management committee has been revived and serious corruption cases are being addressed in various projects. By May 2021, a total of 128 cases were registered, with 91 of them under investigation, 19 closed and 18 before court, with 35 accused persons. A total of 25 new cases were included on the list of the ACTT’s priority corruption case.

Corruption Perception Index

The Corruption Perception Index measures the perception levels of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world. According to the 2019 Corrupt Perceptions Index Report published in January 2020 by Transparency International, South Africa scored 44 out of 100 and ranked 70 out of 180 participating countries. The Corruption Perception Index report published in 2019 indicated that South Africa’s ranking improved from 73 to 70, out of 180 participating countries.

State Legal Services

The purpose of this programme is to provide legal and legislative services to government, supervise the administration of deceased and insolvent estates and the Guardian’s Fund, prepare and promote legislation and undertake research in support of this.

The objectives of the programme over the medium term include:

  • delivering modern, accessible and people‐centric justice services for all, by maintaining the percentage of letters of appointment issued in deceased estates within 15 days of receipt of all required documents at 93%;
  • ensuring a regulated and transformed legal profession by increasing the percentage of briefs allocated to historically disadvantaged individuals, from 80% in 2020/21 to 85% in 2022/23;
  • ensuring effective and efficient state legal advisory and litigation services by increasing the percentage of legal opinions finalised within 40 days of receipt of instruction, from 82% in 2019/20 to 86% in 2022/23;
  • increasing the percentage of international agreements and accompanying legal opinions finalised within 40 days of receipt of instruction, from 85% in 2019/20 to 86% in 2022/23;
  • increasing the percentage of draft Bills approved by Cabinet for introduction within 40 days of receipt of instruction, from 82% in 2019/20 to 85% in 2022/23;
  • maintaining the number of research papers submitted to the SALRC for consideration and approval at 11 from 2020/21 onwards;
  • enhancing the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights and freedoms by maintaining sustained and visible anti‐xenophobia campaigns conducted in collaboration with other departments and role players at six from 2020/21 onwards;
  • maintaining the number of awareness sessions on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex issues conducted with organisations, as well as traditional and faith‐based leaders’ communities at 13 from 2020/21 onwards; and
  • improving reparations accessed by qualifying beneficiaries of Parliament-approved TRC recommendations, by maintaining the number of community projects launched at five from 2020/21 onwards.

Master of the High Court

The Master of the High Court serves the public in respect of:

  • deceased estates
  • liquidations (insolvent estates)
  • registration of trusts’, tutors’ and curators’ administration of the Guardian’s Fund (minors and people with mental disabilities).

The Master’s Office has five main divisions, which are all aimed  at protecting the financial interests of people whose assets or interests are, for various reasons, managed by others.

As part of the turnaround strategy in the Master’s Office, there has been a special focus on training frontline officials. The Master’s Office is also investigating methods to deliver a more efficient and effective service to the public through the Internet.

Integrated Case-Flow Management Framework

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, in partnership with stakeholders from other partner organisations, is developing an enhanced version of case-flow management in the court environment.

To eradicate case-flow blockages workable solutions were adopted.

These include:

  • continuous cooperation of stakeholders to implement and maintain case-flow management at all courts
  • establishing judicial leadership and case-flow management buy-in processes in the lower and higher courts in the form of case-flow management forums
  • facilitating and monitoring the creation of case-flow management governance structures to sustain productivity in the courts’ environment
  • maintaining case-flow management.

Systems that support case-flow management in the courts include the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS). This system spans all disciplines of cases administered in the justice environment.

The Integrated Case Management System draws on several core modules to perform basic functions such as information warehousing, case numbering and document scanning.  The specific functionality for each court and office are then built on these foundations. The further development of the ICMS Masters System aims to create a Paperless Estate Administration System for the Master’s Office.

This system will computerise the administration process in deceased estates, as all documentation will be scanned and stored electronically.

Audio-Visual Remand System

The system links magistrates’ courts to correctional detention centres via closed-circuit television. The development in this area of support to case-flow management for the courts has brought about a significant improvement in the movement of cases through the use of technology.

One of the directives issued by the Chief Justice to address, prevent and curb the spread of COVID-19 in court precincts, was that AVR centres in correctional centres linked to magistrates’ courts should be used for purposes of the postponement of cases where accused persons were in custody.

Case-Reduction Backlog Project

The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster departments have introduced a case backlog intervention to reduce the number of backlog cases in regional and district courts, and provide additional capacity to the backlog priority sites. The intervention ensures that the inflow of the number of new cases is balanced by the number of matters concluded. The project deliverables have been integrated into the outputs of the JCPS Cluster Delivery Agreement.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has provided resources in the form of infrastructure, court personnel, the judiciary, magistrates and budget, in support of the prosecution and judiciary to remove these cases from the backlog roll.

Budget

For the 2020/21 financial year, the DoJ&CD was allocated R21.9 billion. The total departmental budget for 2020/2021 financial year was reduced by R416 million. The budget cut includes R111 million on compensation of employees, R122 million on court infrastructure, R150 million from the NPA, R10 million from the SIU and R23 million from Legal Aid South Africa. From the revised budget allocation, R130 million was allocated to the State Capture Commission and R334 million was earmarked for expenditure related to COVID-19, such as personal protective equipment procurement and decontamination of offices and justice service points.

The DoJ&CD’s focus and impetus on modernisation, digitisation and business continuity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the revision and increasing of the budget for Information Technology And Modernisation from R529 million to R663 million, supplemented with a further planned expenditure of R688 million in the Integrated Justice System programme.

Court Services

The purpose of the programme is to facilitate the resolution of criminal and civil cases and family law disputes by providing accessible, efficient and quality administrative support to the lower courts, and managing court facilities.

Over the medium term, the programme’s objective is to deliver modern, accessible and people‐centric services for all by:

  • reducing the number of criminal cases on the backlog roll in lower courts, from 48 223 in 2019/20 to 45 388 in 2022/23;
  • increasing the percentage of child justice preliminary inquiries finalised within 90 days after the date of first appearance, from 85% in 2019/20 to 90% in 2022/23;
  • increasing the percentage of maintenance matters finalised within 90 days from the date of proper service of process, from 72% in 2019/20 to 79% in 2022/23;
  • increasing the number of clearance certificates for the NRSO, in respect of particulars issued to applicants, from 3 000 in 2019/20 to 18 000 in 2022/23;
  • expediting the implementation of Femicide Watch, established as required by Article 15 of the 2019 Presidential Summit Declaration against GBVF, from phase 2 in 2019/20 to phase 5 in 2022/23;
  • increasing the number of regional courts upgraded to sexual offences courts, as required by the 2019 Presidential Summit Declaration against GBVF, from 90 in 2018/19 to 148 in 2022/23; and
  • upgrading 72 magisterial district courts in terms of the Victim-Centric Justice Strategy by March 2023.