File photo: Reuters

Parliament - The office of the chief justice has a budget shortfall of R66.4 million this financial year, Parliament's justice portfolio committee was told on Friday.

The office's secretary general Memme Sejosengwe told MPs the increase factored into the budget of R123.9m “has really been inflation-based and did not consider the year-by-year growth required by the office of the chief justice to perform its mandate”.

The envisaged requirements not funded included R17m to rent additional office space, R15m for judicial education, R8.7m for capacitation of the office, and R15m for the development of a court performance monitoring system.

She said the fact that the chief justice's office had to make do with three floors in a rented building was hampering its growth.

The National Treasury, which will release its Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement next week, had taken the view that for now a reprioritisation of budget funds had to happen within the justice department to meet priorities, she said.

The office of the chief justice was proclaimed in 2010 and is meant to support the chief justice in his dual roles as the head of the judiciary and the Constitutional Court.

Although it has the status of a national department, it is still technically a sub-programme of the justice department.