Budget Vote speech by Minister JT Radebe,Minister Justice and Constitutional Development, National Assembly Parliament
7 Jun 2011
Mr Speaker/Madam Deputy Speaker
Chief Justice and members of the Judiciary
Heads of the constitutional institutions
Comrades and friends
Ladies and gentlemen;
It is with honour and privilege, that I am afforded this opportunity to present to you the Budget of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, for the coming year. But firstly, allow me to pay tribute to one of the heroines of the liberation struggle. The sudden and very sad passing on of the African National Congress (ANC) struggle veteran u Mama u Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu, took all of us by surprise, just weeks after she had cast her vote during the recent local government elections. May her selfless fighting spirit inspire all of us in our endeavour to ensure access to justice to all our people.
Honourable members and distinguished guests,
As a department charged with the mandate to entrench and protect the Constitution for the common good of society, we can say without fear of contradiction that the recent Local Government elections have further strengthened our work in consolidating our constitutionally driven democratic transformation.
Allow me also, honourable members, to make mention that this budget vote is presented during National Youth Month, when we as a nation pay even greater attention to the integration of youth in the various programmes of our development.
Honourable members and distinguished guests,
We, in the department and the justice family, are indebted to the able and guided oversight of the Portfolio Committee and this House without which we would not have been able to make any visible strides in our performance outcomes, or overcome some of the difficult challenges we encounter in executing our constitutional and legislative mandate.
It is through the guidance of the Portfolio Committee of this House that we are able to reflect on our significant achievements and successes, acknowledge missed performance targets and outcomes and make appropriate interventions to address them, tackle the challenges that lie in our path head-on and reaffirm and pledge our commitments into the future in which All South Africans will enjoy equal justice.
The qualified audit reports that the department has suffered over the years is a matter of concern to me. I have had meetings with the Auditor-General in order to understand the magnitude of the problem and the Department's officials have also appeared before Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). We are now in the course of implementing a financial turnaround strategy to improve our financial management as we work towards a No Audit Qualification by 2012/13.
The elements of the turnaround strategy are:
- Implementation of accounting systems to enable the department to produce credible financial statements.
- Implementation of human resources system that will improve the management of leave, performance, etc.
- Implementation of policies, processes, and procedures to controls across the department
- Implementation of internal audit processes to provide early warnings and carefully monitor higher risk areas.
- Full use of the support offered by National Treasury to improve the financial maturity of the department.
The focus of this budget will be mainly on the transformation of the judicial system and Access to Justice.
We have made visible progress regarding the transformation of the judicial system and the legal sector, which are at the Apex of our transformation-orientated projects. I am sure that the Judiciary, particularly the judges as well as the legal practitioners in the advocates' and attorneys' profession, respectively, are waiting anxiously for the long overdue reconstruction of their respective professions which, hitherto, are steeped in inequality, division and fragmentation that is reminiscent of the apartheid policies of the past. The current legislative framework that regulates the courts and the profession, are not suited for the post 1994 non racial and non-sexist society democratic society founded on equality and human dignity.
I take the opportunity to convey our gratitude to the Chief Justice and Heads of Courts for their constructive views on the Bills as well as commentators from the judicial and legal fraternity broadly speaking, as well as the Provincial Legislatures and other sectors of society for their invaluable submissions on the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Bill and the Superior Courts Bill after they were approved by Cabinet in 2010. Both these Bills have been tabled in Parliament and I trust that the submission made in respect of these Bills will enhance the final product.
The Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Bill provides a constitutional framework for the judiciary to take charge of court administration. It affirms the Chief Justice as the head of the judiciary and entrusts the incumbent of this highest office in the judiciary, with the authority to develop norms and standards for all courts. Flowing from the envisaged constitutional amendments, a court administration framework that is commensurate with the model of separation of powers in our Constitution will be developed.
I will seek guidance of Cabinet and this House at the appropriate time once we have come up with firm proposals from both our research and those undertaken by the Chief Justice and his office. In the interim, the President has, by Proclamation, enhanced the status of the Office of the Chief Justice to that of a national department. This has enabled his office to recruit competent professionals who will assist in developing an appropriate model of court administration.
Similarly, the revised Legal Practice Bill was approved by Cabinet in December 2010, following continued engagement with the legal profession on the initial Bill approved by Cabinet in May 2010. A ground-breaking compromise which enjoys the support of many in the profession relates to the legislative mandate proposed for the Transitional Legal Practice Council to deal with the outstanding areas of contention in the Bill within a period of 18 months.
These areas of contention are, among others, the type of regulatory structures for the profession, the appointment mechanism for the members of the regulatory structures, disciplinary mechanisms and assets and financial arrangements relating to the profession. within a prescribed period of 18 months. I am pleased to inform the House that the department and the State Law Advisers have addressed all the concerns that would have likely obstructed the certification of the Bill, and I am confident that these Bill will soon be ready for introduction into Parliament. The certification process will be finalised in a matter of days to pave the way for the introduction of this important Bill to Parliament.
A new legislative framework is needed to manage litigation against and on behalf of the State. Needless to say, the transformation of the State Legal Services forms an integral part of the transformation of the legal profession and the administration of justice broadly speaking. We have initiated a process that will culminate in the overhaul of the State
Attorney's dispensation establishment, and provide an alternative legislative framework informed by the ethos and values of the Constitution for effective institutional efficiency.
I will soon submit to Cabinet a Framework on the State's Legal Services' Reform to initiate a debate that will lead to a new legislation that will in turn provide for the establishment of a unified, development-orientated public sector legal practice, that is founded on a common vision and which is underpinned by cooperative governance principles as embodied in the Constitution. These measures will enable government to address the challenges in the management of Government's legal services.
I have requested the Rules Board for Courts of Law to develop appropriate rules to facilitate the use of court-connected mediation and court connected arbitration programmes, which have proven to be a huge success in other foreign jurisdictions. We plan to pilot these programmes in a few selected courts before the end of this year as part of the Civil Justice Reform Programme sanctioned by Cabinet.
Honourable members, with regards to the gender and racial composition of the judiciary, of the total 230 judges in all the Superior Courts, there are only 60 women judges of which 22 are African. These figures include the recent appointments made by the President after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) sitting in April 2011.
Overall, there are 94 White and 136 Black judges. It is therefore important that the as the JSC, considers we are considering other innovative ways, to encourage more women to pursue a legal career so as to create an adequate pool for eligible female judges' candidates apart from the usual practice of drawing candidates for the bench from the legal profession to replenish the pool since the legal profession, as a feeder to the judiciary, also faces the danger of consequently drying up, and that has the negative potential of diminishing the depth of jurisprudence.
The integrated interventions of the Justice Crime and Prevention cluster to fight Crime and Corruption have begun to bear fruits. The programmes of the various cluster departments respond to the eight outputs that constitute the priority interventions in the fight against crime.
In designing the programmes and legislative measures to fight Crime and Corruption, the cluster is guided by Outcome 3, namely that "A" people in South Africa are and feel safe". The Delivery Agreement in this regard sets out the joint performance targets we have set ourselves for the Cluster and we continue to measure our outcomes against the set targets. The cluster adopted the following Of the eight outputs: the following have shown visible impact on the efforts of the cluster:
- Reducing the overall levels of serious crime - in this respect serious crimes, particularly trio crimes, have considerably gone down.
- An effective criminal justice system - particular emphasis is paid to the operation and efficiency of courts at all levels.
- Corruption within the cluster combated to ensure its effectiveness and ability to serve as deterrent against crime - a corruption-based line report indicating information on cases of corruption within the JCPS has been compiled and verified.
- Perceptions of crime among the population managed and improved - annual crime survey conducted and a report will be finalised by July 2011.
- Levels of corruption reduced thus improving investor perception, trust and willingness to invest in South Africa- the Asset Forfeiture Unit as of Quarter four, seized assets to the value in excess of R468 million in 13 cases. This demonstrates Government's determination to fight corruption.
- South African Board effectively guarded and secured - Through the Inter-Agency Clearing Forum, we have phased the deployment of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) at borderlines with neighbouring countries.
- Integrity of identity and status of citizens and residence secured - the National Population Register (NPR) campaign for early registration is bearing fruits.
- Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems integrated and cyber crime combated, the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) management turnaround strategy is earmarked to increasing the pace of integration across the CJS partners improving the efficiency of the courts and combating violence against vulnerable members of society.
- Strengthening crime combating legislation.
- Strengthening the Bail dispensation
- Systems integration and modernisation.
One of the major challenges facing the criminal justice system is the case finalisation rate which undermines the right to a fair trial. This constitutional right is expressed in the well known adage "justice delayed is justice denied".
I am hopeful that the Access to Justice Conference, initiated by the judiciary and which will take place from 7 to 11 July 2011, will go a long way in addressing the challenges facing the courts in dispensing justice. The conference, unlike past conferences which involved judges only, will also involve all the three branches of the State, the Legislature, the Executive and of course the Judiciary itself. With regards to case backlogs, which undermines the right to a fair trial, the Chief Justice has established a coordinating committee dealing with case-flow management and in particular, backlogs and delays of cases. This will in future assist in ensuring greater interaction between the Criminal Justice System role players and the judiciary.
In respect of the lower courts, between April 2010 and March 2011, the 56 Regional Court Backlog disposed off 8 111 cases, of which 5 272 cases were finalised, 2 444 withdrawn and 395 transferred. The District Backlog Courts disposed off 8 915 cases in the same period, of which 5 813 cases were finalised, 2 943 withdrawn and 159 transferred. Since 1 November 2006 until the end of March 2011, 46 127 cases were in total disposed off by the Backlog Courts. The Lower Courts and the High Courts were able to dispose off more cases than the total number of new cases enrolled. A total of 962 317 new cases were enrolled and 988 451 cases disposed off. A total of 26 134 more cases were therefore disposed than received. This is sign of very commendable progress in this regard.
Honourable members, it would be an injustice to fail to appraise the dedication by many officials in order to ensure speedy access to justice. Of particular note is the example from the Molopo district of the North West, where a number of court officials joined forces, in the true spirit of Batho Pele, to convene Saturday Courts on a voluntary basis. These courts started functioning on the ih of May 2011. In this short period, 29 out of 32 matters have been disposed off.
This team has now set itself a target of disposing off 50 matters a month from June 2011. I profusely congratulate the team in the North West, and intend encouraging such initiatives throughout all provinces to ensure that case backlogs are significantly reduced. Many of these cases would still have been on the rolls if it were not for the hard work performed by the officials in the additional backlog courts. The total number of cases disposed off from the Regional and District Court rolls, including the outputs of these backlog courts since 1 April 2010 until the end of March 2011 was a total of 17 026 cases.
We have established a National Task Team consisting of the relevant role-players from Government and the NGO's, to develop and implement an Integrated Intervention Strategy to address the rights of the LGBTI community. I expect the report of the Task Team very soon, and will engage the public on its recommendations.
As part of implementing the criminal justice system's seven point plan, the JCPS cluster is rolling out the Audio Video Remand (AVR) system for Awaiting Trial Detainees. Yesterday I launched the Mitchells Plein's AVR system. The launching of these AVR initiatives was after noting that 80% of awaiting trial detainees transported to courts are for the mere purpose of postponement. The chain duties of signing them out from correctional centres, their transportation to Courts and back to correctional centres, is not only time consuming and thereby delay court hearings due to late arrivals, but also take up many of the human resources which could optimally used otherwise. Section 159 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 was amended to enable this innovative solution.
Honourable members, it would be injustice to fail to appraise the dedication by many officials in order to ensure speedy access to justice. Of particular note is the example from the Molopo district of the North West, where a number of court officials joined forces, in the true spirit of Batho Pele, to convene Saturday Courts on a voluntary basis. These courts started functioning on 7 May 2011.
In this short period, 29 out of 32 matters have been disposed off. This team has now set itself a target of disposing off 50 matters a month from June 2011. I profusely congratulate the team in the North West, and intend encouraging such initiatives throughout all provinces to ensure that case backlogs are significantly reduced.
The overall court performance outputs for the 2010/11 indicate a clearance ration of 2.7%. The Lower Courts and the High Courts were able to dispose off more cases than the total number of new cases enrolled. A total of 962 317 new cases were enrolled and 988 451 cases disposed off. A total of 26 134 more cases were therefore disposed than received. This is sign of very commendable progress in this regard.
We have established a National Task Team consisting of the relevant role-players from Government and the NGO's, to develop and implement an Integrated Intervention Strategy to address the rights of the LGBTI community. I expect the report of the Task Team very soon, and will engage the public on its recommendations. A special team to investigate the attacks against non nationals has been established.
Access to Justice remains our primary focus. It is for that reason that we channel the bulk of our budget, (70%) to service-delivery programmes to ensure that these services are within the reach of the indigent.
The courts and the Masters' offices are the department's service delivery points that consume the bigger slice of the department's budget allocation. There are 9 on-going capital projects which have been carried forward from the 2010 MTEF, namely, the construction of new courts and the rehabilitation of existing courts, to meet the increased demands for court and office accommodation.
Three new courts have been completed, namely i.e. Galeshewe, which we launched exactly a week ago. The which has been opened, Colesburg, and Lutzville magistrates' courts which will be opened soon. The expansion of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein has also been completed will be inaugurated by the President in September 2011. New courts which are under construction are the Katlehong and Ntuzuma magistrates' courts and the Polokwane High Court. Further six projects are being have been undertaken to expand offices based in Stanger, Thembalethu, Swellendam, Riversdale, Bredasdorp.
Projects in the planning phase include the new High Court in Mpumalanga, Magistrates Courts in Mamelodi, Port Shepstone, Richards Bay, Tshilwavhusiku and Plattenberg Bay. The planned courts are in line with our principle of access to the court coined in the slogan: "Lower Court for Every Municipality or District Municipality".
The preliminary results of an audit underway on the status of the courts in the 234 Metros and Local Municipalities, undertaken as part of our Rationalisation of the Areas of Jurisdiction of the Lower Courts (formerly known as the Re-demarcation Project), has revealed that there are 14 municipalities which do not have any court infrastructure and have to access justice services, including maintenance and deceased estates, from the courts in the adjacent municipalities.
We also continue with our Programme of the Re-designation of Branch Courts as proper full services courts. I am pleased to announce that the conversion into fully fledged courts of Attridgeville, Mamelodi, Northam and Ntuzuma Branch Courts, which had to be delayed due to financial constraints, will be with effect from 1 August 2011.
All magistrates' courts in the 384 magisterial districts have now been designated as Equality Courts as part of ensuring access to justice for all our people. This has resulted in an increase in the number of cases enrolled at these courts from 447 in 2008/9 to 508 in 2009/10.
In respect of the High Courts, the principle of a "Division of the High Court for every Province" applies equally. It is in the context of this principle that the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces will each have a High Court. The construction of the court in Limpopo is underway while that an interim accommodation for the High Court for the Mpumalanga Province is being procured, pending the construction of a permanent High Court for the Province.
Closely linked with the Rationalisation of the Areas of Jurisdiction of the Lower Courts is the Programme for the Re-designation of Branch Courts as proper full services courts. Before August 2009, there were 90 Branch Courts, the largest number being in former Black township and rural areas. Fifteen of these Branch Courts have been rehabilitated and turned into proper self-standing courts. I am pleased to announce that the conversion into fully fledged courts of Attridgeville, Mamelodi, Northam and Ntuzuma Branch Courts, which had to be delayed due to financial constraints, will be with effect from 1 August 2011.
From an infrastructure point of view, office accommodation is a major challenge as we continue to appoint more personnel at the courts to deal with the increased mandates arising from new legislation. The Court Records Off-Site Storage has been introduced was introduced as part of the departments modernisation programme, as a solution to provide a system that improves the management of court records. It creates an opportunity to alleviate filing space challenges in the courts, and it provides easy access to court records for the public, the judiciary and members of the legal fraternity.
Honourable Members we have identified Maintenance and Masters' services as areas that will receive our priority focus in the 2011/12 financial year. An effective maintenance recovery and payment system has the effect of reducing the dependence of children on social security as more and more parents will be compelled to support their children.
Closely associated with our modernisation programme is the virtual library project that makes it more convenient for judicial officers and other court officials at all courts to obtain court judgments and publications on line, without the need to having to have a hard copy in court.
We are also putting more efforts to turn around the Master's offices to improve services relating to the winding up of deceased estates, the administration of insolvent estates and payments from the Guardian's Fund. The turnaround project will focus on working with clients in distress and the speedy finalisation of matters.
Interventions that form part of the turnaround strategy include the implementation of drastic measures to stamp out corruption, the implementation of electronic financial transactions, to improve turnaround times, online databases to address the credibility of the administration of insolvent estates; automation of Master's services, the rollout of the ICMS Masters (Integrated Case Management System) to all Masters offices as well as the implementation of an effective communication strategy on the work of the Master's offices. Our emphasis on the Electronic Fund Transfer payment system for Maintenance and Guardian Fund in terms of which payment are made directly into beneficiaries' bank accounts seeks to increase efficiency while reducing fraud and corruption in the handling of Third Party funds. The Legal Aid South Africa (LASA) has been approached to assist in this regard.
We are also taking initiatives to enhance the capacity of the court administration through the Court Capacitation Project of the Justice Sector Strengthening Program (JSSP), which is an eighteen month USAID funded project being implemented by the National Centre for State Courts (NCSC) to DOJCD. The objective of the project is the provision of operational and technical support with the view of mproving and strengthening Court Management, Integrated Case flow Management System (ICFMS) and Court Automation which are key components of court administration reform. The project will lend support towards crafting a model in line with international best practices on court management which includes developing a cadre of professional court managers and improved court processes and systems.
Three sets of TRC Regulations to effect reparations to the victims and communities of the Apartheid atrocities and gross human rights violations have been drafted and were published in the Gazette in May 2011 for comments.
Honourable Members will no doubt recall that late last year this House approved an amendment to the RICA legislation dealing with the interception of communications for purposes of crime prevention and detection by extending the deadline for the registration of cell phone SIM Cards from 31 December 2010 to 30 June 2011. That is three weeks away. Let all be reminded! Everyone's compliance with this statutory requirement is part of the Government's effort to fight crime. I wish to stress that there will be no further extension.
With regards to the key legislation, the department has also prioritised implementation to enhance efficiency of the administration of justice. Amongst these pieces of legislation are the Judicial Service Commission Amendment Act, 2008, the Child Justice Act of 2008 and the Child Act of 2005.
Apart from the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Bill, the Superior Courts Bill and the Legal Practice Bill to which I have referred to in my introduction, there are a number of other Bills which we aim to introduce in Parliament this year. These include the Constitution Amendment Bill amending Schedule 4 to the Constitution in so far as it relates to education, the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill which is intended to delink the NPA from the Department from an administrative point of view and legislation to address hate speech, xenophobia and related intolerance.
I must also mention the Muslim Marriages Bill which is part of on-going has been subjected to a broad consultation process. The Bill aims to give statutory recognition to Muslim marriages, the absence of which gives rise to countless instances of hardship, particularly in the case of women and children who find themselves in distressing situations when these marriages fail and are terminated.
Honourable members will probably have already noted that the Traditional Courts Bill has been withdrawn from this House and will be re-introduced in the NCOP soon. The NCOP, because the Bill impacts on provinces and is a legislative competence referred to in Schedule 4 to the Constitution, is probably better placed to deal with the crucial issues that emanate from the Bill.
Allow me to provide you with the budget allocations relative to the Programmes and commitments I have outlined in my address. A total budget of R13, 518 billion has been allocated to the department for the 2011/12 financial year. Of this budget allocation, R4, 342 billion is allocated to the Court Services programme, R2, 640 billion is for the NPA and R1,656 billion for Public Entities and Chapterand Chapter 9 Institutions. Much of this increase has been set aside for improving the capacity at our courts, the improved implementation of legislation that addresses rights of the most vulnerable and providing court services, hence the large increases in the Court Services (35.7 percent), State Legal Services (14.0 percent) and National Prosecuting Authority (9.2 percent) programmes over the MTEF period.
Savings of R33.3 million in the 2011/12 financial year and R35.2 million in 2012/13 and R37.1 million in 2013/14 have been identified in selected goods and services items, by reducing spending in advertising, communication, catering and entertainment, stationery and printing, travel and subsistence, venues and facilities.
The 2011 Budget sets out additional allocations of R477.0 million in the 2011/12 financial year, R1.2 billion in 2012/13 and R1.4 million in 2013/14 for: increasing regional capacity (R180 million); building new courts (R490 million); implementing legislation concerning vulnerable groups (R175 million); renewing ICT infrastructure (R210 million); the United in Diversity presidential initiative (R45 million); improving conditions of service and implementing the second phase of the occupation specific dispensation for legally qualified professionals (R938.4 million); increasing the department's baseline for accommodation charges (R240.9 million); appointing more judges and magistrates, including secretarial support (R437.5 million); and adding capacity in Legal Aid South Africa, the Special Investigating Unit, the South African Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Public Protector (R405.6 million).
Over the next three years, the department will spend R2,5 billion on the construction of courts and other infrastructure projects. A further R87 million will be spent on day to day maintenance and R265 million on rehabilitation of court facilities over the next three years.
An amount of R225 million has been earmarked in 2011/12 for DOJ&CD, NPA and the Legal Aid Board for the reduction in criminal case backlogs in regional and district courts. R86 million, R202 million and R214 million has been allocated over the next 3 years for the implementation of the Children Act, Child Justice act and Sexual Offences act.
A total amount of R2,7 billion has been allocated in 2010/11 for regional operations to fund operations of lower and high courts. In 2011/12 the department envisage to spend R1,9 billion on Public Prosecutions, R138 million on witness protection, R106 million on Asset Forfeiture, R194 million on the Special Investigating Unit and R1,1 billion on the Legal Aid Board. In support for constitutional institution, the department will transfer R89 million to the Human Rights Commission and R143 million to the Public Protector.
In line with the Government's commitment to Job Creation, we have, earmarked the following:
- R450 million will be spent on the filling of 200 new positions at the courts
- R29 million for 90 new positions in the CFO's office
- R13 million to appoint 65 additional Maintenance Investigators
- R23 million for the appointment of 130 Intermediaries
- R17,4 million for Children's Court Clerks
- R12 million for 111 new posts of Child Justice Courts clerks
- R40 million for Legal Aid South Africa candidate attorneys
Honourable members, this Budget that we have presented here today is our firm commitment towards achieving the various goals that we have set for ourselves as I have alreadyarticulated. It is the blue print against which we will be assessed as to the strides we are making in ensuring access to justice for all our people, and that all our people are and feel safe.
Honourable members might recall that in the Departmental Strategy that we tabled in the House early this year, we have identified Maintenance and Masters' services as two of the three areas that would receive our priority focus in the 2011/12 financial year. The third relates to audit compliance. An effective maintenancerecovery and payment system will reduce the dependence of children on social security as more and more parents will be compelled to support their children.
We continue to appoint more maintenance investigators to trace and locate errant parents and hidden assets to provide for their children as part of improving the maintenance system. In this regard, I have met with the Auditor-General in order to understand the magnitude of the audit compliance challenge and have impressed upon the Director-General and her management the urgency of improving financial management and compliance.
Appropriate interventions, which include the increased capacity to deal with Third Party funds which have been a thorny issue for years, the enhancement of the accountability arrangements of the National Prosecuting Authority and the improvement of our organisational efficiency, form part of the department's 2012/13 No Audit Qualification Goal.
As I conclude, Allow me to convey my gratitude to Chief Justice Ngcobo for his profound sterling leadership in making remarkable progress with regard to the transformation of the judiciary. We congratulate him on the extension of his tenure as Chief Justice for a further period of five years.
Please allow me also to thank my Deputy Minister, Mr Andries Nel for his continued sterling support, my colleagues in the JCPS Cluster, my Director-General, Ms Nonkululeko Sindane, and her management for their tireless support, the Heads and Chairpersons of statutory bodies, Heads of Courts and members of the judiciary and the entire staff in the justice family.
Lastly and most importantly, I would like to thank my wife, Bridgette and my family who have always been at by my side through the many challenges I have faced in the execution of my responsibilities.
Issued by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, June 7 2011
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