Other legal role-players and structures

Legal Aid SA
Special Investigating Unit
National Prosecuting Authority
National Prosecutions Service
Office for Witness Protection
Asset Forfeiture Unit
Specialised Commercial Crime Unit
Specialised commercial crime courts (SCCC)
Priority Crimes Litigation Unit
Sexual Offences & Community Affairs Unit
Office of the Family Advocate
Truth and Reconciliation Commission

 

 

 

 

Legal Aid South Africa 

Legal Aid South Africa was established in terms of Section 2 of the Legal Aid South Africa Act, 2014 (Act 39 of 2014), to provide legal aid and legal advice to eligible people at the State’s expense. The entity is mandated to ensure access to justice and the realisation of people’s right to legal representation, as envisaged in the Constitution.

Expenditure is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 2.7%, from R2.1 billion in 2021/22 to R2.2 billion in 2024/25, with compensation of employees accounting for 81.6% (R1.7 billion) of this spending, increasing at an average annual rate of 2.5%. Included in this are additional allocations of R11.2 million in 2022/23, R11.3 million in 2023/24 and R11.8 million in 2024/25 to fund the costs of 15 legal practitioners appointed in 2021/22 to service newly established courts for specialised commercial crimes in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape.

The entity expects to derive 99% (R6.4 billion) of its revenue over the medium term through transfers from the department, increasing at an annual average rate of 2.8%, from R2 billion in 2021/22 to R2.2 billion in 2024/25.

Special Investigating Unit (SIU)

The Special Investigating Unit investigates and litigates on serious malpractice, maladministration and corruption, in connection with the administration of state institutions and take or assist in instituting appropriate and effective action against wrongdoers.

A special tribunal was re‐established in 2019/20 to act as a dedicated court for civil proceedings. The tribunal improves perceptions of how justice is served through timely litigation to recover funds and assets that have been wrongfully acquired. To this end, the number of cases enrolled at the tribunal is set to increase from 25 in 2021/22 to 55 in 2024/25.

Expenditure is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 17.9%, from R751.6 million in 2021/22 to R1.2 billion in 2024/25, driven by an increase in spending on compensation of employees from R531.2 million in 2021/22 to R927.9 million in 2024/25, at an average annual rate of 20.4%. This increase reflects the planned increase in the number of personnel from 612 in 2021/22 to 816 in 2024/25, in line with the objective of increasing the number of investigations finalised in order to root out maladministration and corruption at all levels of the state.

As a result, the number of investigations closed per year is expected to increase from 1 400 in 2021/22 to 1 600 in 2024/25, and the number of investigative reports submitted to the Presidency is set to increase from 18 to 30 over the same period.

The unit expects to derive 52.2% (R1.4 billion) of its revenue over the medium term through transfers from the department and 44.5% (R1.2 billion) through charging client departments and state institutions for services rendered. Non‐tax revenue is expected to increase at an average annual rate of 9.6%, from R363 million in 2021/22 to R478.6 million in 2024/25, mainly as a result of the projected increase in the number of billable hours dedicated to investigations.

    National Prosecuting Authority

    The National Prosecuring Authority was established in 1998 and comprises the National Directors of Public Prosecutions, Deputy National Directors of Public Prosecutions, Directors and Special Directors of Public Prosecutions and other members of the prosecuting authority appointed at or assigned to the NPA, and members of the administrative staff.

    It provides a coordinated prosecuting service that ensures that justice is delivered to victims of crime through general and specialised prosecutions. It also removes profit from crime and protects certain witnesses.

    The National Prosecuring Authority has the power to:

    • institute and conduct criminal proceedings on behalf of the State,
    • carry out any necessary functions incidental to instituting and conducting such criminal proceedings), and
    • discontinue criminal proceedings.

    The Deputy National Directors of Public Prosecutions are responsible for the following divisions:

    • the National Prosecutions Service (NPS).
    • Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) and International Relations.
    • Legal Affairs.
    • Administration.

    The Special Directors of Public Prosecutions head the following specialised units:

    • Sexual Offences and Community Affairs (SOCA) Unit.
    • Priority Crimes Litigation Unit.
    • Office for Witness Protection (OWP).

    Over the medium term, the authority will focus on:

    • increased feelings of safety and security,
    • improved investor confidence in South Africa through high-impact prosecution, and
    • improved access to National Prosecuring Authorityservices for all.

    To achieve these outcomes, the National Prosecuring Authorityplans to address key challenges in its operating environment, including stabilising the organisation, ensuring that sufficient financial and human resources are available to enable effective operations, improving public perceptions of the NPA and repairing its reputation, and enhancing collaboration and cooperation between all criminal justice agencies.

    National Prosecutions Service (NPS)

    The National Prosecutions Service is a core division of the NPA, responsible for general and specialised criminal prosecutions. The Directors of Public Prosecutions are the heads of their respective areas of jurisdiction, which are established according to provincial demarcations in each of the seats of the high courts.

    All the public prosecutors and state advocates working in the district, regional and high courts fall under the responsibility and direction of the Directors of Public Prosecutions. The Special Directors of Public Prosecutions are appointed to carry out certain functions and responsibilities related to a particular crime type, as assigned by the President by proclamation in the Government Gazette.

    Office for Witness Protection (OWP)

    The Office for Witness Protection is established in terms of the Witness Protection Act of 1998, and is headed by a director, appointed by and operating under the direction and authority of the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, for the purpose of administering the Act.

    The Office for Witness Protection is responsible for the protection (including temporary protection) of witnesses and related persons, in accordance with the Act. All OWP functions and duties are classified secret in terms of the Witness Protection Act of 1998.

    Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU)

    The Asset Forfeiture Unit was established in May 1999 as a division of the NPA  to focus on the implementation of Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 of the POCA of 1998. The unit was created to ensure that the powers in the Act to seize criminal assets would be used to their maximum effect in the fight against crime, in particular, organised crime. Criminal assets seized by the AFU are paid into the Criminal Assets Recovery Account.

    Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU)

    A division of the National Prosecutions Service, the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit’s mandate is to prosecute complex commercial crime and corruption cases. The client base of the unit comprises a broad spectrum of complainants in commercial cases, ranging from private individuals and corporate bodies to state departments.

    Specialised commercial crime courts (SCCC) 

    The DoJ&CD will continue to play a crucial role in the fight against corruption through the implementation of the Anti- Corruption Strategy. Part of the department’s responsibility in combatting corruption is ensuring the effective and optimal functioning of the SCCCs, which are expected to be extended to all provinces that do not have these courts – over the medium term.

    Much success has been derived from the existing SCCC model which allows for a close integration of the work between prosecutors and investigators, and dedicated courts, ensuring that matters are quickly and effectively processed instead of having to await space on an open court roll.

    Whilst it was initially envisaged that these courts would be set up in three years, the DoJ&CD was able to expedite this by establishing six courts in the 2020/21 financial year. In the 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years, the department will ensure that the capacity and efficacy of the SCCCs is enhanced and optimised.

    Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (PCLU)

    The unit is mandated to tackle cases that threaten national security. It was created by a presidential proclamation. The primary function of the unit is to manage and direct investigations and prosecutions in respect of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological).

    Sexual Offences and Community Affairs (SOCA)

    The SOCA unit’s mandate is to act against the victimisation of vulnerable groups, mainly women and children. The unit develops strategy and policy, and oversees the management of cases relating to sexual offences, domestic violence, human trafficking, maintenance offences and children in conflict with the law.

    The unit aims to:

    • improve the conviction rate in gender-based crimes and crimes against children;
    • protect vulnerable groups from abuse and violence;
    • ensure access to maintenance support; and
    • reduce secondary victimisation.

    One of the entity’s key achievements in ensuring government’s commitment to the fight against sexual offences and GBV is the establishment of Thuthuzela Care Centres – one-stop facilities located at public hospitals in communities where sexual assault is particularly high. The facilities are aimed at reducing secondary victimisation, improving conviction rates and reducing the cycle time for the finalisation of rape cases.

    Over the Meduim Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, the department will focus on addressing the scourge of GBVF and against women and children. Dedicated courts to deal with GBV-related matters will be designated in terms of Sexual Offences Courts Regulations developed in terms of Section 55A of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007. Legal and policy framework will be enhanced and tightened by amending the provisions regulating the National Register for Sex Offenders (the NRSO) in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007.

    Office of the Family Advocate

    The role of the Family Advocate is to promote and protect the best interests of children in civil disputes over parental rights and responsibilities.

    This is achieved by monitoring pleadings filed at court, conducting enquiries, filing reports, appearing in court during the hearing of the application or trial, and providing mediation services in respect of disputes over the parental rights and responsibilities of fathers of children born out of wedlock.

    In certain instances, the Family Advocate also assists the courts in matters involving domestic violence and maintenance. Furthermore, litigants are obliged to mediate their disputes before resorting to litigation. Unmarried fathers can approach the Family Advocate directly for assistance without instituting any litigation.

    Children’s rights to participate in, and consult on, decisions affecting them have been entrenched; the Family Advocate is the mechanism whereby the voice of the child is heard.

    Truth and Reconciliation Commission

    The TRC was dissolved in March 2002 by way of proclamation in the Government Gazette. The TRC made recommendations to government regarding reparations to victims and measures to prevent the future violation of human rights and abuses experienced during the apartheid years.

    Government approved categories of recommendations in June 2003 for implementation, including:

    • final reparations;
    • TRC-identified victims;
    • symbols and monuments;
    • medical benefits and other forms of social assistance; and
    • community rehabilitation.

    The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development offers education to TRC-identified victims of apartheid. Calls for applications are opened annually for those who were declared victims by the TRC and their dependants to apply for assistance with tuition fees for basic and higher education and training.

    Dependants include any person to whom the TRC-identified victim has or had a legal or customary duty to support, including children, grandchildren and spouses of the identified victim. Applications close on 30 September each year.

     

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