New office for top judge

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ST_MOGOENG 50 INLSA BIG GUN: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is to head department known as the Office of the Chief Justice.

LOUISE FLANAGAN

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THE CHIEF justice is getting an entire new department to run, dozens of staff, a hugely expensive personal assistant and 6 000m2 of new offices – with his own toilet.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng will head the department. A secretary-general is the accounting officer.

The renting of offices and hiring of staff has started, but the new department’s costs do not yet appear in the national Budget.

The national Department of Public Works has issued a tender for office accommodation in Joburg for the new department, specifying 5952.36m2 of “at least B grade” offices near the Constitutional Court (Concourt), plus 100 parking bays.

Public works did not respond by late yesterday to requests for comment.

Top of the list of 170 offices or sections required is: One office for the chief justice (48m2) with private toilet with handwash basin (4m2), a secretary’s office, a private boardroom for the chief justice and two for visiting judges, offices for visiting judges, and offices for the chief of staff and a personal assistant.

There are sets of offices for the secretary-general, the chief operations officer and executive support services.

There’s an “office of the judge in the Office of the Chief Justice”, a 40m2 office with 4m2 for the private toilet.

Staff include an “executive relations and ceremonial management specialist”; a parliamentary liaison co-ordinator; a head of court systems; and deputy heads of judicial relations co-ordination, of court systems, and of court performance monitoring, evaluation and reporting.

There’s also space for the Judicial Service Commission.

The tender has three pages of “minimum requirements and finishes to which the building must comply”, ranging from ceiling heights to the placing of light switches.

Nine jobs in the new department were advertised earlier this year.

They are the secretary-general (R1.4 million to R1.6m a year), four deputy head positions and a Concourt manager (R716 000 to R856 000 a year each), an “executive personal assistant for the private office of the chief justice” (R434 500 to R512 000) and two assistant directors (R221 000 to R267 000 each).

“This space will be used to house, under one roof, the (relatively new) national department that is the office of the chief justice,” said Lulama Luti, spokeswoman for the private office of the chief justice.

“The Office of the Chief Justice was promulgated as a national department by the president in September 2010, and subsequently, a memorandum of understanding between the new department that is the Office of the Chief Justice was signed back in January 2012.

“Essentially, the Office of the Chief Justice has been set up to provide institutional independence of the judiciary and to render support to the chief justice in executing administrative and judicial powers and duties as head of the judiciary and head of the Constitutional Court.”

Chief Justice Mogoeng was appointed to the Concourt in October 2009, and as chief justice last September.

He will have two offices.

“The chief justice will still retain his chambers at the Constitutional Court, where he is head of the court and a judge,” said Luti.

“However, he will also be allocated office space in the new building, where he will sit in his capacity as the head of the judiciary in the country.

“There he will have enough space for meeting and receiving both local and international visitors and will have all staff members accommodated in a single building, as opposed to the current state where staff are housed at different localities in Johannesburg and Pretoria.”

The other Concourt judges remain at the Concourt.

The costs for setting up the new department come from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s budget this year but will be a separate budget next year, said justice spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga last night.

Both personnel and accommodation costs were covered in this year’s justice budget, he said.

The Office of the Chief Justice and the National Treasury both referred queries on the budget to the Justice Department.


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