Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola. File Picture: GCIS
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola. File Picture: GCIS

Overtime pay approved to address backlogs at Masters of the Supreme Court office hit by ransomware attack

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Jan 12, 2022

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Cape town - Overtime pay has been approved for six Master of the Supreme Court offices across the country in a bid to address the backlogs which were worsened by the recent ransomware attack on the Justice Department’s information and communication (ICT) technology systems.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said this in a parliamentary written response to DA’s justice and constitutional development spokesperson, Glynnis Breytenbach.

She had written to the minister to ask for the details of the steps his department was taking to attend to the backlog of matters at the Masters offices, made worse by the ransomware attack on the department’s ICT systems.

Lamola said it was difficult to ascertain the exact backlog, because many of the clients were walk-ins who could not be assisted when the systems were down.

He said since the systems were restored, officials were doing their utmost to assist them and pointed out that the officials also had to deal with applications received via post and courier during the downtime period, as well as those still received on a daily basis.

Lamola said as a result of the biometric fingerprint facility (MOVIT) being unavailable, first time and final inheritances could however, only be processed again from November 15 when the new finger print verification server was restored.

Answering the minister, Breytenbach said: “The situation at the Masters offices around the country, perhaps with very few exceptions, is intolerable. The backlog is never reduced, it just continues to grow.”

She said she and her colleagues receive literally hundreds of complaints and requests for assistance each week, and that despite attempts to engage on the issue nothing changes for the better.

“The recent ransomware attack not only multiplied these problems tenfold, it also focused attention very sharply on just how ill-equipped, ill-prepared and disorganised this department is.”

Breytenbach said the entire department is in dire need of a serious shake-up and revamp.

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