Magistrates warned against strike

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Independent Newspapers

Johannesburg -

The office of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Tuesday called on striking magistrates to rethink their actions, as there could be consequences.

“We… call on any magistrate that might still be thinking that the strike action or go-slow is the route to go; to reconsider their actions and take up their grievances through existing and official channels,” his office said in a statement.

“We further reiterate that any strike action by any judicial officer would be ill-advised and could yield undesirable consequences.”

Spokeswoman for the office, Lulama Luti, said there were no major disruptions in the majority of courts monitored throughout the country on Monday. There were only a few isolated incidents, she said.

In Nquthu, KwaZulu-Natal, criminal courts were postponing cases. In Madadeni all cases were postponed.

In Odendaalsrus in the Free State, there was one magistrate who supported the protest.

“This was dealt with and there were no further disruptions reported,” said Luti. It was unclear what the magistrate did.

In Randburg, Johannesburg, none of the 12 permanently appointed magistrates who supported the protest were doing trials.

“They were reportedly at work and carrying out other judicial functions,” said Luti.

The criminal courts handling trials were being staffed by six acting magistrates and the acting head of the office.

No civil trials were ready to proceed and no negative impact on case-flow management was recorded.

Cases were postponed in East London in the Eastern Cape, and Kimberley in the Northern Cape.

“Other than these isolated incidents, all courts nationally functioned normally. All magistrates were in court and cases were heard in the normal manner, and there we no go slows reported,” Luti said.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Officers' Association of SA (Joasa) said the nationwide protest by some 1 300 magistrates would continue on Tuesday.

“Yes it is continuing and will carry on for the rest of the week,” Joasa president Nazeem Joemath said.

“We want meaningful engagement and so far we are not getting that.”

If the justice department had not responded to their demands by the end of the week, the protest would escalate.

Joemath said despite what the department said, work at 70 percent of courts was disrupted countrywide on Monday. Eastern Cape courts were worst affected, he said.

Magistrates want a single pay structure for the judiciary, one that would have their salaries and benefits put on the same sliding scale as those of judges. This could see their salaries increase by almost 100 percent.

A dispute over the salary increase forms part of a matter before the Constitutional Court. - Sapa


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